With a total length of over 6,700 kilometres and around 140 substations, the Swiss transmission grid is the nerve centre of a secure, reliable power supply for Switzerland. The national grid company, Swissgrid, is responsible for the maintenance and the continuous targeted development of the Swiss transmission grid – not an easy task in a country with a challenging topography and constantly growing population. The documentation of the power lines and substations is regularly updated, so that accurate data is always available for planning, construction, maintenance and information purposes. Up-to-date information on power lines is also crucial for Swissgrid to identify any possible risks, obstructions or environmental impacts as early as possible.
Transmission grid and digitisation
Documentation of power lines using the latest technology
Swissgrid uses the very latest technology for the documentation of its power lines, and its records of the complete Swiss transmission grid are fully digitised. The power lines and substations are recorded in three-dimensional form using digital aerial photography and modern scanning technologies. A specially equipped helicopter overflies the transmission grid at a height of around 300 metres, using the latest laser technology to scan lines and substations in a 200m corridor. In addition, several cameras take orthophotos with an infrared channel and perspective views of the pylons.
Comprehensive 3D model of the power lines
Back on the ground, the data and information obtained are classified, vectorised and referenced on the Swiss coordinate system with meticulous locational accuracy. Spatially differentiated objects can be extracted from the laser-produced point cloud, and are augmented with additional technical data. Step by step, images are formed of power lines, pylons and posts, buildings, vegetation and terrain, producing a comprehensive 3D model of the power lines and their surroundings.
These digital models are used to produce simulations of the lines over a wide variety of environmental situations and operating conditions, enabling Swissgrid to detect problems before they become acute and take the relevant preventive measures.
A basis for the secure, reliable operation of the transmission grid
This procedure with its associated technology forms the basis for the secure, reliable operation of the transmission grid in Switzerland. The power line models enable Swissgrid to carry out more targeted and efficient maintenance of the grid, and the data is also used to keep records up-to-date and complete. Project managers can see from their desks at the early planning stages where possible adverse effects on people and the environment may arise, and can take these findings into account in their development work.
Using the latest technology, Swissgrid is able to increase the security of Switzerland’s electricity supply, now and in future.
About the author
Irene Fischbach is manager of Communication & Stakeholder Affairs at Swissgrid; she is responsible for the organisation’s communications and relations with the stakeholder groups of the national grid company. She has many years’ management experience in various communications roles within international groups such as Swiss Life, Holcim and Zurich Insurance. She worked for Swiss Life from 2004, initially as Public Relations Manager, then in 2009 taking over responsibility for all marketing and communication activities of the international division.
Irene Fischbach studied law at the Universities of Geneva and Zurich, where she obtained her licentiate (lic.iur.). In parallel with her career, she studied at the University of Lugano for an Executive Master of Science in Communications Management and at the university of St. Gallen for a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Renewable Energy Management.