The need for LIDAR technology arose due to the necessity for a solution for vegetation management during the drone pilot project.

DSO Energijos skirstymo operatorius (ESO) is responsible for more than 40 000 km of medium voltage overhead power lines. Every year around 12 000 km of medium voltage overhead lines are inspected by ESO engineers. All these lines are often in areas not easily accessible, and therefore, the passage may be difficult to survey. Consequently, it requires proper visual inspection to evaluate the maintenance need on the lines itself and managing surrounding area like eliminating existing vegetation below the lines or too close to the line. Such infrastructure is situated in the whole country, so it can be an empty field or forested area – all of it must be inspected according to the plans to ensure the safety and reliability of the network.

LIDAR scanning while operating a low altitude airborne platform has no difficulties accessing and surveying even the roughest terrain quickly, cost-effectively, and without placing people at risk. It provides accurate position information of wires, structures, vegetation and the ground along the power line corridor. LIDAR data allows generating highly accurate 3D models for network maintenance but also potential risk analysis and vegetation encroachment analysis.

During 2020 ESO tested LIDAR data together with high resolution photo collection services for 1000 km of 10kV overhead lines. Provided results identified vegetation problems, 3D line models, main defects in the power lines and is more detailed then what is collected in current inspection process. This allows ESO to be more effective while maintaining the grid and allows to evaluate the current situation in the grid.

After successful pilot project ESO is planning to further use these services inspecting medium voltage overhead lines. The plan is to scan and inspect additional 8000 km of medium voltage powerlines in the next two years.

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