earth observation for utilities

Top 5 Earth Observation Business Cases For Utilities O&M in 2022

Earth Observation satellites are used by utilities all over the world to increase their risk awareness and digitalise their operations. But what kind of data can satellites provide, and what are the most common use cases?

While some innovative organisations are exploring the capabilities of new sensors, such as methane and thermal, there are several business cases that are becoming common in the market. Based on our extensive experience working with utilities of all kinds and sizes, in many different countries, here are the Top 5 use cases for utilities O&M.

1) Vegetation management and wildfire prevention
Many power TSOs and DSOs want to optimize vegetation management activities. Satellites can help them move from calendar-based towards risk-based actions, by telling them, where the vegetation is closest to their power lines, if the corridor has been properly cleared by their contractors, location of unhealthy trees at risk of being blown down. Satellites can even provide data on the wind conditions, humidity and temperatures along power lines so utilities can prevent wildfires caused by power strikes.
2) Detection of dangerous human activities
Human activities above underground pipelines or under HV power lines, such as unauthorized building works, represent a huge threat to the integrity of the assets and to the workers themselves. Satellites can help network operators monitor their network at scale, as frequently as every couple of weeks.
3) Preventing landslides and understanding land motion
Landslides can be a big threat to utilities managing extensive assets on mountainous and high rainfall areas. Moreover, land movements can create major issues for both overhead and underground assets, especially when two areas close to each other are moving in different directions. Satellites can help predict and monitor landslides, as well as continuously monitoring the direction and speed of land movement over time.
4) Monitoring extreme weather events

Climate change is driving an increase in the number and severity of extreme weather events in many parts of the World. Floods, storms, heat waves, can all cause serious threats to asset integrity and service continuity, especially for exposed overhead power lines. Earth Observation satellites can help in both understanding how a networks risks have changed over the last 15 years as well as near real time monitoring of extreme events to help utilities prepare and respond quicker.

5) Monitoring biodiversity
More and more utilities are starting to see themselves not only as energy, gas or water distributors, but also as landowners that need to care about the sustainability of their distribution activities on the environment. Therefore, sustainability managers are starting to account for the evolution of the natural capital in and around their assets. For them satellites offer a unique opportunity to track and monitor the changing biodiversity and value of their natural assets.

While Earth Observation might seem new to many utilities, few know that it is increasingly being used by those who manage extensive networks, especially in rural areas. While the technical capabilities of the technology and services available are improving fast, there are already several viable use cases that make satellites a no-brainer for utilities’ asset managers.

Our latest news:

Spottitt Provides a Solution to Automatically Detect Changing Conditions on the NSW Road & Rail Network

Spottitt became Finalist in Transgrid’s Challenge for real-time insights for company’s easement route planning and Champion for Transport for NSW Challenge for tracking safety of roads and railways using satellite data.

The New South Wales network includes 6,800 route kilometres of operational rail lines and 17,600 km of state roads and highways.

TfNSW has identified Earth Observation satellites as a valuable addition to the monitoring technologies currently deployed and was looking for innovation to automatically detect changing conditions of network and potential risk modelling.

Satellites Drones Geospatial Data Collection Comparative Analysis

Deciding Between Satellites and Drones for Geospatial Data Collection: A Comparative Analysis

In recent times, the landscape of asset monitoring has witnessed a transformative shift with the emergence of advanced technologies, particularly satellite and drone systems.

The utilization of Earth observation satellites for monitoring purposes began gaining momentum in the late 20th century. Free government programs, such as those initiated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), played a pivotal role in providing open access to satellite imagery. These programs not only facilitated scientific research but also allowed industries to leverage satellite data for monitoring critical infrastructure and environmental changes.

spottitt transgrid transport deloitte

Spottitt to Collaborate with Transgrid and Transport for NSW

Spottitt has been selected by Transport for NSW and Transgrid to apply satellite-based and AI-powered technology to automatically detect changing conditions in the NSW road and rail network and to provide real-time insights for Transgrid’s easement route maintenance and planning, respectively.

These projects will be conducted within the GRAVITY Challenge 06 program led by Deloitte Australia, an initiative that brings together start-ups, scale-ups, entrepreneurs and universities to address real industrial and environmental problems using space data. The Collaborate Phase will continue until mid-March 2024.

climate change EU UK Ireland satellite data

Weathering the Storm: Climate Change Threats to Power Grid Infrastructure

As our global climate continues to undergo profound transformations, the challenges posed by climate change are increasingly felt across various sectors of society, including critical infrastructure.

Climate change, characterized by rising temperatures, increased occurrences of extreme weather events, and shifting precipitation patterns, have exposed vulnerabilities within power networks. Often designed under the assumptions of historical climate patterns, now they are increasingly susceptible to the new normal of extreme weather, prolonged heat waves, and more severe freezing.

InSAR analysis Infrastructure Monitoring Sentinel Imagery

InSAR Analysis and Corner Reflector Experiments for Infrastructure Stability Monitoring Using Sentinel-1 Imagery

National Grid Energy Transmissions (NGET), which owns and maintains the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales, conducts invasive analysis annually to monitor the towers most at risk of movement. Moreover, the NGET inspection teams perform annual line walking activities and monthly substation inspections during which they visually assess the presence of asset motion. These interventions are crucial to avoid issues which may cause expensive assets replacements or reconstruction. It costs NGET over £6 million per year to monitor only 1% of their most at risk assets.


Utilizing Satellite Data to Mitigate Pipeline Failures and Risks

The operation of oil and gas transmission pipelines entails inherent risks associated with the potential for unintentional product releases. Oil and gas product releases have traditionally been treated as safety issues due to the risk of explosions and asphyxiation, but increasingly, the environmental impact of unintentional product releases is fast becoming the key risk to be reduced and avoided via Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) programs.