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Electric company ENDESA checks out 2,500 km of the Girona network to prevent future failures

With a helicopter, ENDESA is checking the entire Girona province?s medium tension electric network and has found 50 weak points so far. This operation is being pursued to prevent damage from past collapses of the electrical network, especially in the Cost

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09 July 2010 11:32 PM

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ACN
Girona (CNA).- The main electricity company in Catalonia and Spain, ENDESA, has a bad reputation in Catalonia and, in particular, in Girona’s Costa Brava due to past interruptions of service. Last winter, due to severe snow storms, several coastal towns were without electricity for several days, some of them even for a week. However, in the past, especially in the summertime, some coastal lines have collapsed because of the great increase of demand. The lack of maintenance and prevision are said to be the causes, so the Catalan Government gave million euro fines to ENDESA. In order to prevent possible problems this summer, the company is reviewing the 2,500 km of medium tension electric lines’ network with a helicopter equipped with an infrared-ray camera. 50 weak spots have been mapped out so far, though they are planned to be strengthened to decrease risk. In addition, the company has installed 450 electricity generators run by fuel and has increased the number of technical staff in tourist areas.
A total of 160 medium tension lines spanning a length of 2,500 km within the province of Girona are being checked by ENDESA to prevent future interruptions of service. Since 2 weeks ago, the company is using a helicopter equipped with an infrared-ray camera that measures temperature to detect the hotter points which indicate where there is a higher risk of a collapse. So far, 50 hot spots have been detected, both within the network that was renovated after last winter’s snowstorms and the old network. Jordi Vinyoli, spokesman of ENDESA, has declared that these 50 spots “are spots where action is needed”.

The helicopter is flying at an average speed of 30 km/h and checks each meter of line with an infra-red ray camera. The camera creates a “thermographic” analysis of Girona’s network, including the old one as well as the lines which were renovated after last winter’s snowstorms. Three different measurements are being calculated: the surrounding air,, the electric cable and other components of the network. If the analysis shows that one spot has a higher temperature than the average, it means that there is the risk of a failure.

“The measures allow us to discriminate the spots where, due to a high heat, a collapse of the line may occur”, indicates Vinyoli. For the moment, in the medium tension network, ENDESA has detected around 50 hot spots with differences of temperature that range from 4ºC to 40ºC degrees difference from the average. “These points are completely random, and they are located both in the renewed lines as well as in the old network which was not affected by the snow and the ice”.

The company will map out these points, classifying the priorities and starting to correct the anomalies. “In some spots, 3 or 4 years could very likely pass before a real problem happens”, affirms Vinyoli, who is also ENDESA’s Head of Exploitation for East Catalonia. “Thanks to this technique, we can anticipate a failure and prevent it from happening” continues Vinyoli.

In addition to the temperature measures, the helicopter also takes video of the network. After the flight, technicians review the footage in order to look for other anomalies, such as mechanic ones affecting towers.

In the coming days this revision will end and will have cost 232,275 euros. Once the helicopter has finished its job, 160 lines with a length of 2,500 km will have been reviewed.

ENDESA has renewed 200 km of cable after the snowstorms and changed 1,600 towers and electrical supports. These works ended about 2 weeks ago, a week earlier than ENDESA’s initially anticipated. The total cost of this operation was 60 million euros and, in the busiest moments, more than 1,660 technicians participated at one time.

In addition, to reinforce the network during summertime, the company has installed 450 electricity generators in order to act quickly in case of a line collapse. The area of special attention is the touristic Costa Brava, a coastal area which sees its population grow significantly during the summertime. The generators will be ready to supply any needed electricity. In addition, the generators will also work during the peaks of demand. Finally, the number of technical staff working in the Costa Brava has been doubled.

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  • The ENDESA helicopter checking out the electricity lines

  • The ENDESA helicopter checking out the electricity lines