Alpiq in: Switzerland
Alpiq Group

Story: 22.03.2018

Helpers from the air – Alpiq EnerTrans expands services with drones


Whether performing checks on power lines or masts: if inspections must be fast, cost-efficient and safe, they are best carried out from the air. This is why Alpiq EnerTrans is further expanding its range of services and now also inspects, for instance, photovoltaic (PV) or wind power systems using aerial drones.

Since 2014, Alpiq EnerTrans (AENT) has been one of the first network service providers in Switzerland to use aerial drones for the inspection of power lines and masts as well as for vegetation checks. As a result of the rapid developments in drone technology and the correspondingly diverse fields of application, AENT has been cooperating since early 2018 with DJI GmbH, the world’s largest developer and manufacturer of civilian drones and aerial-photography technology. Based on this cooperation and a new, versatile DJI Matrice 210 RTK drone, AENT now also offers its services for inspecting PV and wind power systems as well as catenary wires and dams.

Inspections using aerial drones: efficient, safe and uninterrupted
Thanks to drones, the inspection of power lines and masts has become faster and more cost-effective. It is no longer necessary for the network operator to switch off the system. The inspectors also benefit from this, as they do not need to climb the power lines and masts any more, making their job safer. Using geographically referenced detail shots from any angle, experts can still assess the condition of the system on site. In addition, they can use different supplementary features, such as a thermographic camera, to quickly and accurately locate potential damage. The customer receives a detailed report after the analysis, with comprehensive information about the technical condition of the system.

Anton Zgraggen, Head of Network Construction at Elektrizitätswerk Altdorf AG, comments on the service offered by AENT: “The power line inspection with the aerial drone was carried out quickly and safely. Supplemented by a detailed report, the aerial shots provide precise insights into the condition of the power masts. This allows us to quickly decide if any action must be taken.”

Offer including measurement, field surveying and mapping of power lines
In addition to the visual line checks, AENT also uses the aerial drone to assess the distance between vegetation and high-voltage overhead lines. The geographically referenced aerial shots are converted into a 2D map or a 3D terrain model, where the required minimum distance between the existing vegetation and the transmission lines can be checked. Furthermore, the drone can be used for field surveying and mapping power lines, even in terrain that is difficult to access, and exactly determine the position, height and maximum sag of the transmission lines. And all this without any expensive and noisy helicopter operations.

Everything from a single source
The aerial drone can be used in many ways – just like the services offered by AENT. The provision of services can be arranged flexibly in consultation with the customer. The offer ranges from visual condition assessments in order to pinpoint potential damage through modelling and surveying to current-state analyses for drafting plans or other expert documentation. Recommending appropriate measures and implementing all types of repairs complement the comprehensive services offered by AENT.


New aerial drone from Alpiq EnerTrans: the DJI Matrice 210 RTK with a dual gimbal system and Zenmuse XT and Zenmuse Z30 cameras


The DJI Matrice 210 RTK aerial drone in action: inspection of live power lines


Trying to detect damage using aerial footage of a PV system recorded by DJI’s Zenmuse XT RGB and thermographic camera

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