DSO Energijos skirstymo operatorius (ESO) is responsible for more than 40 000 km of medium voltage overhead power lines. Every inspection period 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.
The need for LIDAR technology arose due to the necessity for a solution for vegetation management during the drone pilot project. The problem was to accurately identify vegetation (bushes, trimming, individual trees), enable data for adjusting and correct existing geographical data in ESO systems and collect defect data all along.
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 a successful pilot project ESO is further using these services for inspecting medium voltage overhead lines. During 2021-2022 additional 8000 km of medium voltage powerlines was scanned and lidar technology will further be used for automating inspection in ESO.