Endesa has allocated 71.8 million euros for preventive maintenance of its electrical distribution network and the forested areas surrounding them to guarantee continuity and security of supply during the summer months, a figure representing an increase of 8.2% over 2017. 21.7 million euros have been set aside this year for trimming, felling and cleaning up vegetation for the summer 2018 campaign, and 50.1 million euros for maintenance and improvements to the electrical grid.
The work involved consists primarily of clean-up and care of the forests in the areas through which the electric lines run and preventive maintenance of the grid, and regular inspections of installations to prevent incidents and improve the quality of service.
Part of the electrical network managed by Endesa involves overhead lines that run through forested areas or terrain, and which need adequate protection from vegetative growth. Security corridors under high and medium voltage lines are kept open by trimming and felling operations performed in the autonomous communities where Endesa operates as a distributor (Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia and Extremadura and the Balearic and Canary Islands), avoiding interruptions in electrical supply and minimising the risk of fire.
Selective trimming and felling operations are carried out in accordance with the standards established under national and regional regulations, which indicate the frequency and timing based on the growth periods for various species, and performed in cooperation with regional and local authorities.
Along with forestry operations, Endesa conducts various types of inspections of its distribution installations during the year, such as thermography of the high and medium voltage lines and substations. These involve inspection of the network with infra-red cameras, both from the ground and the air, to detect if there are any elements with temperatures higher than normal, which would indicate some irregularity. If any irregularity is detected, the coordinates of the “hot point” are recorded and the procedures to correct it are automatically activated.
Some of the thermograms are taken from helicopters that are used to inspect the high and medium voltage lines. This year, Endesa will inspect 6900 kilometres of overhead high voltage lines with 20,000 operations by helicopter, making it possible to overcome the problems posed by the terrain, reducing the time required for inspections and recording the growth around the electric lines to improve planning for trimming and felling operations.
Endesa has been using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology since last year, combining GPS technology with laser sensors and making it possible to create three-dimensional charts and map the electric lines. This tool simultaneously offers information both on the terrain and the growth covering it, proving extremely useful in creating high resolution maps of forested areas and planning forest clearing operations.
In addition to helicopters, Endesa has been using drones since 2012 to check the condition of the network. The drones used by the company are fitted with high resolution cameras that can capture images of the lines, and are particularly useful for checking the condition of areas that are difficult to access without interrupting service. The equipment also makes it possible to verify the width of the safety corridors that act as fire breaks.
Improvement of installations is vital for the proper operation of the electrical system. Every year Endesa incorporates new technologies and replaces existing infrastructures to ensure continuity of service. Work is conducted on elements and installations - high, medium and low voltage lines, substations, protective and telemonitoring systems, distribution centres and remote controlled shunting centres - considered critical for the operation of the electrical system.
The total energy distributed over Endesa networks in 2017 to 12 million customers with contracts to access the grid was 2.7% higher than in the prior year.