Endesa allocates 66.8 million euros to forest works and network improvements in its summer campaign

Published on Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Endesa has allocated 66.8 million euros to the preventative maintenance of its electrical distribution networkand of the forested areas that surround it to ensure the continuity and security of the supply throughout the summer.

These activities will be carried out over the summer in the Autonomous Communities where Endesa operates as a distributor (Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia and Extremadura, Balearic Islands and Canary Islands) and will be carried out in collaboration with the regional and local authorities.

They mainly consist of cleaning and maintaining the forests in areas through which the electrical network passes, preventative maintenance such as thermographic inspections, as well as the regular inspections of all the installations.

In this campaign, Endesa has incorporated LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems, which combine GPS technology with laser sensors and allow three-dimensional maps of the forested areas surrounding electrical power lines to be drawn.

Per territory, 26.4 million has been allocated within the framework of this campaign to Andalusia and Extremadura; 22.3 million to Catalonia; 6.5 million to Aragon; 4.6 million to the Balearic Islands; and 6.6 million to the Canary Islands, these sums being proportional to the extent in kilometres of the network in each area and in the protected areas.

Conservation of the natural surroundings

Of the total of 316,500 kilometres of electrical network that make up the Endesa distribution infrastructure, approximately one third corresponds to overhead power lines that cross forested terrain or areas, and which require appropriate conservation of the areas of vegetation.

This year 21.6 million euros have been allocated to felling, pruning and vegetation clearing works.

These operations ensure the opening of safety corridors underneath the high, medium and low voltage networks, which allow incidents to be avoided in supplying electricity and minimises the risk of fire.

Selective felling and pruning works are carried out according to the criteria stipulated in national and regional legislation, which outline their frequency according to the growth rate of the different species.

Endesa has also invested 45.2 million euros into the predictive and preventative maintenance program, and into the improvement of its electrical network for the summer campaign 2017.

Within the framework of this program, Endesa carries out different types of inspections on its distribution installations. These include the thermographic inspections of the medium and high voltage power lines and substations. They consist of inspecting the network with infra-red cameras, either from the air or from the ground, to detect if any of the components show a higher temperature than normal, which indicates that it is suffering from an anomaly. Should an anomaly be detected, the coordinates of the “hotspot” are recorded and the mechanism that corrects it is automatically activated.

Helicopters, drones and LIDAR technology

Part of the thermographic inspections are carried out from helicopters, which are used to inspect the medium and high voltage power lines. This year Endesa will inspect 6,500 kilometres of High Voltage Overhead Circuits and 20,000 helicopter supports, which allow obstacles presented by the terrain to be overcome and the time needed to carry out the inspection of the installations to be reduced. Thanks to the inspections carried out by helicopter, the vegetation close to the electrical power lines can be recorded to improve the planning of the felling and pruning works.

This year, Endesa has incorporated LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) into these works, which combines GPS technology with laser sensors and allows three-dimensional maps to be drawn as well as the mapping of the electrical power lines. This tool simultaneously offers information both of the relief of the terrain as well as the vegetation that covers it, which is extremely useful for creating high resolution maps of the wooded areas and for planning forest cleaning works.

In addition to helicopters, since 2012, Endesa has used drones to inspect the condition of the network. The drones used by the company are equipped with high resolution cameras that can capture images of the power lines and are especially useful for inspecting the condition of the infrastructures in areas that are difficult to access without any need to interrupt the supply. The devices also allow the width of the safety corridors that act as fire-breaks to be checked.

The improvement of the installations is key to the electrical system operating correctly. Every year, Endesa incorporates new technologies and renews the existing infrastructures with the aim of ensuring the continuity of the supply. The works are carried out on components and installations -high, medium and low voltage power lines, substations, protection and remote-control systems, distribution centres and remote control switching points- considered critical to the operation of the electrical system.

All of these activities have made it possible for Endesa to continue to improve its continuity indicators year after year. In 2016 the average availability time for the network was 99.99% and the ICEIT (Installed Capacity Equivalent Interruption Time) decreased to 44.8 minutes, the best recorded for the company.

In 2016 the total energy distributed by Endesa networks, at a total of 12 million customers with network access contracts, surpassed 115,600 GWh, 1.2% more than the previous year.