Virtual world technology chosen as finalist for international award

Virtual world technology chosen as finalist for international award

Queensland-developed technology that creates a virtual version of the real world allowing fast and accurate inspection and assessments of electricity networks and the surrounding environment without the need to deploy field workers has been selected as a finalist for the international 2015 Edison Award.

Ergon Energy has joined three US and two international electric utilities as finalists for the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) 2015 Edison Award – one of the electric power industry’s most prestigious honours that recognises distinguished leadership, innovation and progress in advancing the electric power industry.

The EEI has announced that a committee of energy trade publication editors has selected The AES Corporation, Ergon Energy and Saskatchewan Power Corporation as finalists for the International Edison Award.

Ergon Energy chief executive officer Ian McLeod said being selected as a finalist in the international award was both gratifying and well-deserved recognition for the company.

Operating one of the single largest electricity networks in the western world, Ergon Energy developed an aircraft-based laser and imaging capture system that can quickly and efficiently map its network and reveal encroachment of vegetation and condition of poles, wires and other assets.

The technology, called Remote Observation Automated Modelling Economic Simulation (ROAMES), delivers other cloud-based data that can be used to quickly assess large sections of network in a fraction of the time of traditional inspection regimes. ROAMES combines pioneering geospatial mapping techniques with accurate three-dimensional modelling which shows precise locations of the electricity network in relation to buildings, trees and other objects.

“Dutch multinational Fugro purchased our ROAMES technology in 2014 but ROAMES continues to help us save millions annually in vegetation management. It contributes to a more reliable electricity supply, creates a safer working environment for crews, and helps get the lights back on to communities more quickly after a natural disaster,” Mr McLeod said.

While the Edison Award selection was very much world-class recognition of the regional Queensland innovation, Mr McLeod said ROAMES had already been a winner for his electricity company.

“We are already part of the way through a third mapping of our entire 160,000-plus km of network with ROAMES and understanding maintenance and other priorities from this data better than we ever have in the past,” Mr McLeod said.

“Further to this, ROAMES has also been deployed twice in the last 12 months to help us quickly assess damage from cyclones, plan our response and reduce power restoration times and costs – including just a month ago in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Marcia across Central Queensland,” he said.

Mr McLeod said the cost savings potential of the system was “enormous”.

“ROAMES, along with other contract strategies, has already contributed towards vegetation management savings alone in the order of $40 million per year,” Mr McLeod explained.

“Removing the tedium, long inspection timeframes and high cost of network inspection not only makes our network safer and cheaper to run, it frees up our people to focus on work that adds value,” he said.

The awards will be presented in June in New Orleans, the US.