Mapping sciences in power sector (Part 1)

Posted on Jul 2, 2007 By : Mizake Laziaf
In the last few decades, the electric power industries have been developing power transmission systems to follow up with the rapid growth of the power demand. On the other hand, the suitable site for new transmission lines has been getting restricted, because of development of rural areas and the growing concern over environmental issues. Analyses such as the selection of suitable areas, the optimum path finding, the profile analyses, the engineering design of towers and wires, and the cost estimation can be done using GIS. This will help planners and engineers in the environmental and engineering analyses for transmission line siting. Power industry consequently has to keep track of numerous poles, circuits, power lines, and transformers. Information of location, voltage, and distribution of electricity of these facilities seem to be very overwhelming. However, with the use of GIS, information can be better organized on a computer system linking the database to map. A GIS as well can make the information easily updatable and accurate and hence can cater to the needs of maintaining large power infrastructure. GIS can effectively manage information on the distribution of electricity to customers and information describing the attributes of each customer such as location and electricity use. Electric companies are already finding GIS very useful in management of distribution. Today in the power distribution sector not only GIS but combination with AM and FM is revolutionising this sector.

The electric utility industry has realized that GIS is a valuable tool not only for mapping facilities but to improve decision making and better managing infrastructure.. Although the needs and uses of GIS are slightly different in the power sector than other industries, GIS can be just as valuable an information technology in the electric utility industry.

AM, the Automated Mapping: This facility helps the utilities to quickly create digital maps of their supply area using the digitization facilities of the software. These maps when so digitised, contain detailed information about the land serviced by the utility, and the precise location and engineering information of the distribution network equipment of the utility that are installed in the field.

FM, the Facilities Management: The digitized map files that are so created with all the required intelligence built into them can now be used to satisfy the Facilities Management needs.

AM/FM/GIS in the field of electric power is used for
  • The study and analysis for electrical distribution system, analysis and design.
  • Applications are also being developed for tackling problem of designing the electrical supply system for new residential development.
  • For process automation in order to provide their customers with high quality attendance.
  • To rebuild the design of work procedures in electric utilities.
  • GIS and GPS are also integrated for mapping and analysis of electric distribution circuits.
GIS in Power: Information Retreival
The maps created by using AM facilities can be made as intelligent as one can imagine. For example, if an engineer needs to know the date of installation of a given transformer, all that he has to do is to click onto that transformer symbol. The attributes attached to this transformer will appear in which one of the attributes will show him the installation date. Consider that the same engineer now wants to know more complex information. He only wants to see on the map, which are the 100 KVA transformers in a given area that were installed prior to a given date. The query facilities of the software will quickly process this requirement of his, and show on the map only those transformers that qualify his requirement, hiding all other transformers that do not qualify it. Let us assume that an engineer wants to know how many transformers are installed in a given locality. The software will quickly process his information need by taking the feeder network data and processing it within the a buffer zone showing the locality of the engineer’s interest and give him the results. At another time if he wants to assess the requirement of a cable to be laid along a certain road, the GIS will return him the results of processing considering even all the bends and turns the road may have. The cable length so shown by the GIS will be precise and will therefore help him procure the exact required quantity of the cable.

Fig. 1: Representation of a Powerline from high resolution
Laser-Altimetre data, acquired by helicopter. (Courtesy: Eurosense)

GIS in Power: Maintenance & Monitoring
Let us assume that the engineer has to send a cable jointer in the field who has to access a certain underground cable joint. The engineer can take the digitized map file of the area, mark a small portion of that area in the neighborhood of the joint, and print that small part on a piece of paper. This printed map of that small area will show, to the jointer, the location of the joint with proper distance and bearing references to the nearby identifiable objects. With these references so readily available with the jointer, his work will be easy and quick. There will be no need for him to have any guesswork or to constantly contact the office for knowing the joint location.
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