Drones to replace helicopters for electricity tower inspections

SP Energy Networks said it is making the switch to reduce costs and to deliver 'environmental benefits'.

SP Energy Networks has announced it will use drones instead of helicopters to inspect its electricity transmission network.

The ScottishPower-owned company said it is making the switch to reduce costs and to deliver “environmental benefits” to help contribute towards its net-zero emissions targets.

Previous inspection work has solely been carried out using helicopters to visually assess the towers on the firm’s transmission network.

However, following a successful trial period last year, a fleet of drones will now be carrying out condition-based assessments across the network in central and southern Scotland.

Drones: The switch is to reduce costs and deliver 'environmental benefits'.Stripe Communications

Drone-based inspection firm Cyberhawk has been awarded a contract until the end of 2022 to carry out the inspections, utilising its iHawk software to collect data against 85 different points on the towers.

This will allow SP Transmission to assess any network risk and inform future investment, enhancing network resilience, integrity and security – ultimately keeping the lights on.

Inspection: The drones will collect data from the electricity towers.Stripe Communications

Pearse Murray, transmission director for SP Energy Networks, said: “It’s a massive undertaking to complete the regular inspection of the many towers on our transmission network but the drone technology represents a significant step forward for a number of reasons.

“Firstly, it’s hugely beneficial for the environment and the imagery we obtain is of a high standard due to the flexibility of the drones in assessing tower conditions, meaning we can make even more informed decisions.

“Following the successful trial, we also realised that the drones dramatically minimise the impacts on landowners and make it much easier to arrange access to land when we require it.”

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