Vegetation management at SAGA

Vegetation management is an essential aspect in the maintenance of power lines. Following SAGA’s philosophy, where predictive maintenance is based on the condition of the assets and the overall risk of the grid, this APM this solution developed by Red Eléctrica includes an extension (VEGETA) that allows for optimal and prioritised management of vegetation felling and pruning plans. These activities are essential to prevent vegetation from growing and reaching overhead lines, minimising the risk of possible fires, as well as acting as firewalls.

Due to the wide diversity of existing vegetation, the optimisation of felling and pruning plans requires a thorough knowledge of the tree and shrub species with which the transmission grid coexists. The commitment to sustainability and the environment has led Red Eléctrica, through Elewit, to carry out innovation projects that allow the identification of these species, as well as the prediction and monitoring of their growth. Thanks to these initiatives, SAGA and VEGETA have accurate information with which to optimise resources to minimise risks and thus develop efficient vegetation management plans.

Vegetation identification was usually carried out through manual photo-interpretation techniques. These processes, which were much less efficient, only provided timely information on vegetation and its growth. These limitations are overcome thanks to the new vegetation management model provided by VEGETA, which combines several innovations that make use of satellite images, Artificial Intelligence or three-dimensional data captured with LIDAR (Laser Imaging Detection And Ranging) technology.

Among these innovations, it is worth highlighting the collaboration between Red Eléctrica, Elewit and Overstory to develop an intelligent system that allows the identification of up to 37 different tree species present along power lines. This recognition is carried out through the use of Artificial Intelligence algorithms that make use of satellite images and information provided by the National Aerial Orography Plan (PNOA). Among the advantages of this innovation are the agility and flexibility in obtaining the data, as well as the accuracy of the data obtained.

In addition to the interpretation of images, the capture of information from power lines through LIDAR technology makes it possible to obtain data such as the position of trees with respect to the power line or their height. In this case, Aerolaser is the partner of Red Eléctrica and Elewit that facilitates not only the collection of high-definition data of infrastructures or terrain, but also their agile processing.

All of the above enables SAGA to become a more competitive and comprehensive tool. Its holistic view of asset management also encompasses intelligent vegetation management through the implementation of innovative technologies and techniques. By doing so, SAGA not only optimises vegetation felling and pruning plans, but also minimises risks and meets sustainability commitments.

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