Point4, a leader in the effective and efficient mitigation of tree risk to critical infrastructure, has been awarded a grant by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Business Applications Programme.
The grant will be used to support a jointly funded €2.1M project, within the Artes 20 programme, to better manage network risk to power distribution services from vegetation growth. The project will run until March 2020 and so far includes two of the UK's distribution network operators (DNOs): UK Power Networks and Scottish Power Energy Networks.
The project will show how vegetation growth and the associated risk to power infrastructure can be managed proactively through better analysis and interpretation of LiDAR (Light detection and Ranging) and Earth Observation data from satellites. The information in these geospatial datasets can assist in maintaining service availability by reducing outages caused by the impact of tree growth, storms and fires, while also significantly reducing maintenance costs.
Point4 uses patented predictive modelling drawn from LiDAR and satellite data to map, analyse and identify the potential risks to power networks from tree growth.
As part of the project, Point4 is partnering with Inmarsat, the satellite services operator, and Galaxy1 Communications, an Inmarsat distribution partner, to provide space segment services, including transferring onsite geo-spatial data via Inmarsat's BGAN satellite network.
Martin Stanley (pictured), CEO of Point4, said: "The risks to power networks from trees are costly and complex to manage. This project allows Point4 to use satellite technology to reduce the cost of data acquisition and enhance growth modelling to enable improved risk mitigation. Our network operator customers will benefit from better, more proactive, vegetation management, thereby delivering significant improvements in service availability to consumers while reducing costs."
Peter Lang from the innovation team at UK Power Networks said: "This is a really sophisticated approach to managing a challenging issue that impacts on many of our overhead lines that run through thickly wooded areas in the countryside. Our priority is to maintain safe and reliable electricity supplies and this approach could save our customers money on unnecessary work while being better for the environment."