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SP Energy Networks’ electricity grid goes virtual

SP Energy Networks, an Iberdrola company, is using Fugro’s Roames virtual world asset management technology, which provides a precise 3D model of the network and advanced analytics, to help reduce the risk of power cuts, optimise operations and improve safety.

Challenge

As a distribution and transmission network operator, SP Energy Networks keeps electricity flowing to over 6 million customers across 3.5 million homes and businesses throughout central and southern Scotland, Merseyside, Cheshire, north and mid-Wales and north Shropshire. It does this through its network of over 110,000 km of power cables and 30,000 substations across its licence areas and investing approximately £7 billion into the network to create a better future for its customers and communities.

With the UK’s ever-increasing electricity demand, it has never been more important for SP Energy Networks to be as agile and proactive as possible with its asset management, so it can continue provide a resilient and reliable service to customers.

Network image

SP Energy Networks’ distribution network consists of over 40 000 km of overhead lines.

Solution

Under a 3-year contract, Fugro is acquiring lidar and imagery data and using it to create a centimetre-accurate 3D representation of the two distribution networks. The resulting Roames World model and advanced analytics will provide SP Energy Networks with a deep understanding of their assets to support their networks’ Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations (ESQCR), and vegetation management programmes for overhead line (OHL) assets, resulting in improvements in cost, performance, and risk reduction.

2019-08-01_06-02-24_RoamesWorld-Screenshot_1920x904

Fugro's Roames solution creates an accurate 'digital twin' that is enabling SP Energy Networks to virtually model and explore their overhead network.

Network Innovation Project

Fugro’s Roames virtual world asset management technology was first introduced to SP Energy Networks in 2015 when the two companies collaborated on an OFGEM network innovation allowance (NIA) initiative. Utilising the core services provided by Roames (3D network model, cloud delivery, vegetation and ground clearance analytics), the power company was able to quantify the business benefits afforded by the virtual technology to help them sustainably manage their assets and asset performance, risks and expenditures.

Roames World

The captured lidar point cloud data and orthophotos, as well as the generated 3D network model, are hosted in the cloud and accessible to SP Energy Networks via Fugro’s Roames World managed service. Within Roames World, several different datasets can be visualised, including:

  • Background maps: open-source background maps, such as street maps and satellite maps, enabling easy navigation
  • Imagery layers: orthophoto images, but also images of the lidar data such as height maps or lidar intensity maps
  • Lidar point cloud
  • 2D and 3D vector layers; for example, the 3D overhead network layer and traffic-light-coloured layers for risk assessment

Asset-matching capabilities

Crucial to the project is Roames’ asset-matching capability, which allows SP Energy Networks to update its geographical information system (GIS) with real-world data, creating an accurate ‘digital twin’ to virtually model and explore their overhead network. The model, which will cover over 40 000 km, provides a digital foundation for asset inspections to reduce the number of onsite surveys and audit requirements, and forges the way for other UK network operators to adopt similar systems.

“Fugro’s solution will not only allow parts of our asset inspection to become desk-based, but it will also reduce any health and safety risks by ensuring vegetation and structures in close proximity to our overhead lines are identified as an obstruction as soon as possible and before customers are impacted.”

Innovative highlight

Previously, SP Energy Networks carried out all vegetation management surveys by eye using a handheld measuring device, which is labour-intensive and subjective. The Roames solution increases efficiency by using cutting-edge artificial intelligence algorithms to provide inspection and risk analysis reporting of vegetation encroachments, enabling our clients to reduce the chances of unexpected power failure in the future.

ROAMES Vegetation Report

Cutting-edge artificial intelligence algorithms provide inspection and risk-analysis reporting of vegetation encroachments.

Impact

Fugro’s Roames virtual world technology is a truly innovative, immersive solution that provides a deep understanding of a utility’s network and assets. Benefits include:

  • Increased efficiency in vegetation and ground clearance management
  • Mitigation of health and safety risks by ensuring vegetation and structures near OHLs are identified
  • Reduced number of onsite surveys and audits by using the Roames platform to undertake desk-based asset inspection
  • Client

  • SP Energy Networks
  • Regions

  • Europe and Africa
  • Location

  • United Kingdom
  • Project Duration

  • July 2019 - June 2022

40,000 km

of overhead lines - almost the circumference of the Earth!

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