Research to prevent powerline bushfires

Trees burn in raging bushfire (wickepin)
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An engineering company has been granted funding to develop technology that will help prevent bushfires caused by powerlines across Victoria.

Groundline Australia, along with Amokabel Sweden, Swinburne University of Technology and United Energy, have been granted the funding under the Victorian Government Powerline Bushfire Safety Program.

The project will involve carrying out extensive research and development into innovative covered conductor technology.

Stringent laboratory tests will be conducted in Victoria using existing powerline technologies and newly developed covered conductor technology.

Engineers will develop, test and install experimental spans of covered conductors as alternative options for existing bare overhead conductors on Single Wire Earth Returns (SWERs) and high voltage lines.

Groundline Australia director Ian Flatley said he was delighted to be selected to undertake the research in the interest of improving the safety and reliability of powerlines within Victoria.

“As a Victorian company with a strong focus on research and innovation, we searched the world for the latest innovation and technology in bushfire prevention for the electricity industry,” Mr Flatley said.

“When we found Amokabel and their advanced covered conductor technology we knew we had found what we were looking for.

“We are delighted that our partnership will see us working together, to bring this technology to Victoria and addressing what is an important issue to everyone who lives here.”

Amokabel developed the triple extruded covered conductor in 1994 to improve the reliability in medium voltage networks in Scandinavia. They successfully supply powerline network operators in Scandinavia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Professor Emad Gad, Acting Dean, School of Engineering at Swinburne University of Technology said the covered conductors have shown great potential.

“We are excited that through this Victorian Government grant we will have the opportunity to offer a practical and cost effective solution for overhead covered conductors that will improve powerline bushfire safety,” Prof Gad said.

The Victorian Government is providing $291,000 to Groundline Australia to kickstart the project.

There is approximately 90,000km of mostly bare-wire high voltage electrical lines across Victoria that this innovation could be applied to, significantly reducing the risk of bushfires.

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