Ghana’s power utility call in the drones

Drones are good – and Ghana’s power utility is now aware of that.

They are good for inspecting the power grid, for instance, and to check power infrastructure on those very tall pylons that can be dangerous for engineers to climb onto physically.

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) knows this too – and that was why it recently purchased a fleet of fifteen drones to help its engineers maintain the power network managed by the company.

The engineers also underwent a training workshop at the ECG training school in Tema, 25 kilometres to the east of Accra, where they learned to use drone technology in keeping an eye over the power utility’s infrastructure.

Launching the drone programme yesterday, ECG Managing Director, Kwame Agyeman-Budu confirmed that his company had indeed purchased fifteen drones to go with all the training the engineers received. Agyeman-Budu also said the autonomous aerial vehicles will be deployed in the field to monitor and inspect company infrastructure, like making sure that vegetation does not grow too close to the power grid.

“The Wingtra Drones, supplied and serviced by Sahara Natural Resources, can last one hour in flight and travel as far as 8km whilst still in contact with the control tablet, which records information and videos for later reference,” Agyeman-Budu said.

Made for mapping and aerial surveys, the Wingtra fixed wing drone has a unique vertical take off and landing style; on take off the drone stands ready on its fish-like tail, before shooting into the sky like a rocket and then flattening out for the flight proper. It does not land on its belly too; it flips back into vertical mode to land on its tail again.

Which is cool.

The drones, says Agyeman-Budu, will also use their specialised camera equipment for routine technical inspections to identify defects along the power grid; and use thermal imagery to check hot spots; and also verify whether contractors have done their work as recommended.

Welcome to the party, ECG. Drones have been very well received in the energy industry elsewhere in the world, because they have proved their safety, reliability, efficiency and punctuality in the inspections they do.


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