A project funded by the State Government to help stop powerlines from sparking bushfires has had an early breakthrough.
Sparks from powerlines, igniting dry grass on hot summer days, have been the cause of many devastating bushfires around Australia over the years.
Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio approved a $650,000 grant to Melbourne-based technology company IND Technology to fund its Early Fault Detection system (EFD) on the Victorian Electricity Network.
After only one year of the two-year research trial, results have already indicated the EFD has the ability to discover faults that are difficult to detect by current systems.
On 28 May, the EFD system identified a fault on the network at Ross Creek, where there was a broken strand on the line. This hard-to-find fault is the exact type of failure that sparked the Kilmore East fire during the Black Saturday bushfires on 7 February 2009.
Around 400 bushfires were recorded on that day, resulting in Australia's highest ever loss of life from a bushfire. In all, 173 people died and 414 were injured.
With almost 30,000 kilometres of SWER electrical lines across Victoria, the EFD technology presents a ground-breaking solution to the challenge of reducing the risk of bushfires from powerlines.
Research trials will continue to monitor and investigate faults picked up by the EFD system to gather evidence-based data to assess whether the EFD system device can be brought to market.