On Tuesday, the South African state-owned power utility’s Research and Innovation Centre said that its visualisation laboratory can effectively calculate the extent of the danger a runaway fire may pose on existing transmission infrastructure.

Fire risk

According to the utility, which houses many research projects and research work under Eskom’s belt, has the capability of demonstrating the awareness of a potential fire risk on a live system.

The lab can also demonstrate how fire alerts can be analysed and interpreted to distinguish fires that pose a threat on a transmission line with regard to fire flashovers.

With over 28,000km of existing transmission infrastructure throughout the country, it is vital for Eskom to have pre-warning of any potential hazardous threats to mitigate a potentially fatal incident.

The utility said in a statement that any fire that is close enough to a transmission line can cause a flashover (power line arcing to the ground) occurrence given the right factors.

This would then lead to a line fault which will ultimately disrupt electricity supply to an Eskom customer. Fire also poses a threat to many critical points within the Eskom supply chain, including power stations, secondary plant and substations among others.

Working together

[quote]Eskom highlighted that a system was developed through the collaboration between the CSIR Meraka Institute and Eskom Research, Testing and Development (RT&D), to detect fires from satellite imagery.

This system is known as the Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) and is used daily by the Eskom System Operator.

Along with the location of the fire, the system is able to indicate the likelihood of fire within a specific area based on weather parameters and can anticipate when a fire within the vicinity of a transmission line will cause a flashover occurrence.

This gives the System Operator the ability to determine which fires pose the most risks during fire intensive periods.