“Spottitt delivered precisely what we needed to ensure our overhead line network is as severe weather resilient as it can be given the constraints. Most of all, I liked the way they portray data on the map. We can easily understand it, cross-reference our lines under it and then put that data in our mapping systems to be able to assign weather ranking to a specific asset. Also, excellent service and support from the team with regular communication and thorough discussions of our challenging questions. It’s definitely worth its cost. I look forward to continued collaboration and excited to see what else Spottitt will do for us”. 

About the Client:

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) is a Distribution and Transmission Network Operator in Central and Southern Scotland, North Wales, Merseyside, Cheshire and North Shropshire.

SPEN company description

Client's request to Spottitt:

Large sections of SPEN’s network are located in areas at risk of severe weather. To decrease the chance of asset failure and supply destruction, the company needs to align its asset design, upgrades, monitoring and inspection to the realities of severe weather.

SPEN currently uses a severe weather map, which provides basic information about the geographical areas at elevated risk of severe weather in the company’s operations. The issue is that the current map version had gone unchanged for 35 years. Since then, new technologies and tools that could improve its accuracy and reliability have become available.

This is why SPEN, known for being at the forefront of innovation, decided to update their severe weather map using satellite-based technology and analytics. Spottitt was asked to support the company on this transformation journey.

SPEN old weather map

Key SPEN drivers for needing an updated severe weather map:

  • Increased climate change impact forecasted by the Climate Change Resilience Strategy
  • Better understanding of the asset risks posed by climate change through identifying changes in severe weather in relation to SPEN’s assets
  • Following the RIIO ED2 Draft Determination on July 22 – Ofgem recommend that the E3C review the current network infrastructure standards and guidance, including those for vegetation management and overhead line designs, to identify economic and efficient improvements that could increase network resilience to severe weather events
  • SPEN’s current severe weather map was first drawn up in issue 1 of the ENA TS 43-40 standard in 1988 and has never been updated 
  • The completed Severe Weather Map and its associated data layers will aid in the design of any asset modernisation programs and new build projects across the SPEN network
  • Need for an easily repeatable and scalable solution

Project details:

Project date:  March – December 2022.

Covered time period: Twelve years 2010 – 2021 inclusive.

Data used: The satellite data used for the soil moisture and surface water analysis was generated by Sentinel-1 and Meteop-A. For wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, temperature and severe weather index analysis were performed using ERA5-Land data. Lightning was measured as an annual strike density on a 3km spatial resolution as detected by the EUCLID system. Coastal infill data was provided by Spire Global.

Methodology: After discussions with the Client, we defined respective ‘severe weather’ thresholds for each parameter and provided insights on an annual, cumulative and cumulative change basis. The work culminated in combining the most relevant individual parameters into a data-based ‘severe weather index’ at 9 km resolution.

Monitoring area: Spottitt has been asked to provide severe weather analysis across the two power network areas owned and operated by SPEN.

spen area 1
spen area 2

Metrics analysed:

Phase 1 :

  • Wind speed
  • Air temperature
  • Soil moisture/flooding
  • Precipitation
  • Severe weather index

Phase 2 :

  • Wind gust
  • Wind direction
  • Lighting
  • Line icing types 1,2 and 3
  • Severe weather index 2

Project outcomes:

SPEN now has an updated and more detailed severe weather map that can break down into individual climate elements.

On top of that, SPEN can see and visualize the real impact of climate change on the conditions their networks experience. Where are assets experiencing warmer and dryer conditions or increased wind speeds and wind gusts? SPEN have all this data at their fingertips.

With an map and additional data layers mapping the risks of heavy rainfall, high winds, dominant wind directions, icing and lightning strikes, SPEN now has an accurate source of information to make different types of operational and business decisions, such as:

  • Which areas are at a higher risk of severe weather in general and specific climate conditions
  • Where failure caused by severe weather events is likely to happen and thus what precautions should be taken 
  • Which parts of the lines require additional lightning protection, protection from the strong wind or from icing
  • Which parts of the network require urgent investment in climate change mitigation upgrades, and which are less likely to be affected. This Risk-based investment approach allows SPEN to make smarter upgrade decisions, investing where needed
  • SPEN network investment proposals submitted to OFGEM, the government regulator for the electricity and downstream natural gas markets in Great Britain, were approved with no revisions because SPEN had the data to support their requests
updated spen weather map
wind direction for spen weather map
cumulative severe weather index spen map