Aerial laser technology helps Transpower deliver a safer and more secure electricity supply for New Zealanders

08 Nov 2023

This month national grid owner and operator Transpower is undertaking a comprehensive aerial laser survey by helicopter to get a much more accurate view of where vegetation or other issues exist on its 11,000 km of transmission line throughout the motu.

Trees and vegetation generally are the curse of power line companies. From falling trees during storms or high wind events or just through their gradual growth into the lines - they can cause a power outage or worse, start a fire. They are a continuing hazard to network assets, people and property that needs to be actively managed.

The technology used in Transpower’s aerial survey known as LiDaR or Light Detection and Ranging allows 2D and 3D imagery to be created of the line below and all its surrounds – that helps identify the distance to the line from trees, vegetation and other potential obstructions on the ground. While Transpower has in the past used LiDaR surveys this is the first time that a complete survey of all its network has been undertaken – and at a resolution that provides a very useful insight into issues existing or emerging.

Transpower’s General Manager Grid Delivery Mark Ryall says that the output will help its vegetation management programme to be more targeted.

“Each year we spend around $8 million on vegetation management, as issues are  identified through visual inspection on the ground patrol work by our contractors. LiDaR imagery provides a level of accuracy you just can’t get with an observer on the ground meaning we can be much more targeted, proactive and precise with our vegetation management.”

“For New Zealanders, being able to translate the imagery into the right work packages for our ground teams means a more reliable and efficient transmission service.”

The survey flights will start in the North Island in early November with helicopters flying at around 150 metres height along all Transpower’s lines, it will take until early December to fly the whole country.

Information on flight dates for each region.

For further information contact Geoff Wishart, Communications Team 021 574 877