Jemena trials new LiDAR tech for powerline inspections in Australia


As part of a trial, the Australian company Jemena is using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) advanced image capture technology to determine whether overhead powerlines across its electricity network require maintenance.

The use of LiDAR technology aims to improve the safety and reliability of the electricity network, explained Jemena’s general manager of asset & operations electricity, Karl Edwards.

“When LiDAR technology is combined with high resolution images, it is able to create a highly accurate three-dimensional model of the electricity distribution network and the surrounding vegetation.

“This technology can improve the safety and reliability of the network by improving the ability to detect when vegetation is growing too close to powerlines,” he said.

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The trial will also assess the benefits the technology can bring to vegetation management and other maintenance and design work on electrical poles and wires.

“With the use of LiDAR technology, we predict that we will be able to build an entire 3D model in less than 10% of the time it would take to assess vegetation clearances using existing techniques.

“In addition to the increased accuracy and speed, this will also allow for detailed models to be built that will forecast vegetation growth rates. This will assist us in shaping our network design and development in the future and lead to better planning of predictive maintenance,” added Edwards.

The LiDAR technology trial is part of a suite of initiatives that were announced by Jemena in December 2021 to enhance its electricity network. These include:

• An advanced distribution management system with analytics on smart meter data to enable voltage control and create a network that can reconfigure itself to restore power following a fault

• A trial to help support adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) across Australia and reduce the need for costly upgrades to electricity infrastructure

• An Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funded collaboration between five distributed network service providers (DNSPs) and a leading EV charging installer to trial dynamic charging of residential EV across three Australian states

These initiatives, as well as Jemena’s LiDAR announcement, are all aimed at advancing the company’s hope to “help prepare the grid for the future by improving the ability of our network to host additional solar, batteries and electric vehicles,” commented Edwards.

“We look forward to progressing on these current innovations as we push towards our future targets, including net-zero by 2050.”