22 Sep 2021

Aerial inspections of power lines contribute to the reliability of the operation of nuclear power plants

Aerial inspections of power lines © VUJE, a.s.
Aerial inspections of power lines © VUJE, a.s.

There are two nuclear power plants in operation in Slovakia with installed capacity of 1940 MW. This represents approximately 20.7% of the total installed capacity in the Slovak Republic and more than 52% of the total amount of electricity produced in 2020. These are therefore the key power plants to satisfy the electricity demand. One of the important technological units that have a significant impact on the reliability of nuclear power plants are power lines, providing power output as well as backup power supply for its consumption. To ensure that power lines do not dversely affect the safety and operation of the power plants, they must be regularly inspected.

In practice, visual from the ground, climbing inspection as well as aerial inspection of the power lines is performed, which is also associated with inspection using thermal imaging. It is ideal when the mentioned inspection services supplement each other and provide a comprehensive picture of the technical condition of the power lines. The company VUJE, a. s. performed in 2021 aerial inspection of 110 kV to 400 kV power lines. Based on our own experience, an "effective form of revision" was implemented. This method allows combining visual as well as thermographic inspection of overhead lines and at the same time data is being collected using LiDAR.

A hyperspectral scanner was also part of the helicopter's technical equipment. The corona camera, capable of recording the ultraviolet spectrum, was used when faults of insulators or protective fittings were suspected. The combination of sensors used, along with the recording and diagnostic technology and other helicopter equipment, allows the inspection of power lines during continuous flight and represents a cost-effective solution. At the same time, this method places high professional and qualitative requirements on the diagnostic technicians, the pilot and other professional staff.

A separate area is the processing and evaluation of the recorded data, their assessment and archiving, which is important, for example for the comparative analysis or a subsequent check of the diagnostic results where appropriate SW and HW equipment is required. A specialized SW is used for data processing. When choosing the SW equipment, emphasis was placed also on the issue of automated evaluation, which significantly accelerates the analysis and results elaboration of the power lines aerial inspection to the required form.

The performance of aerial diagnostics makes it possible to obtain a large range of detailed information, which acquired in a different way would be significantly more complex and less cost-effective. The obtained data and information enable a comprehensive evaluation of the current technical condition of the power lines and a prompt adoption of corrective measures in case the reliability of nuclear power plant operation is jeopardized. The data collected from LiDAR and hyperspectral scanning enable to simulate potentially dangerous situations and to take measures to eliminate the risks before they actually occur.


Ľuboš Skurčák