Power utility firm to start using drones for maintenance of high voltage lines
Kenya Power (KP) is eyeing the possibility of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones to patrol its high voltage lines in the near future.
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Speaking when he addressed a meeting for large power consumers at a Mombasa hotel, KP Acting Managing Director, Eng.Jared Othieno said that they are still carrying out a feasibility study to ascertain the probability of using drones as part of their ambitious technology and innovation strategy to enhance better service delivery.
'' We have our personnel out in the field conducting feasibility study on the use of drones for patrols. Currently we still use smart metre and smart systems alongside the deployment of helicopter,'' the MD said.
He added that this latest use of technology will be cost effective way of doing maintenance and ranks as the safety way of moving onto live lines as we embrace artificial intelligence systems.
The business case for drones is impressive across the energy sector, but their adoption has been slow to take off.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, in the energy sector is in its infancy, with many companies still unsure about the value drones could bring to their operations.
But this market segment is a fast-growing infant with a potentially bright future: in a recent report, professional services consultancy PwC valued the addressable market of drone-powered solutions in the power and utilities sector at $9.46 billion.
The MD enumerated four key pillars that will form the basis of the new strategic plan which will be launched later in the month.
He named them as implementation of financial sustainability, people focused, customer experience and power supply management.
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The mission of the new strategic plan, Othieno said is ‘Powering people for better lives through innovative ideas securing business sustainability for the future and the vision is the energy solution provider of choice'.
The MD added that they aim to provide least cost of energy to industries as they align with the national Big 4 agenda- enhance manufacturing and affordable housing.
He noted that energy cost for most manufacturers other than cement and steel are often less than 10 per cent input cost.
The company, Othieno further stated commits to continued infrastructure modernisation and automation for improved supply quality and reliability.
Othieno said that they are confident as a company to meet the much desired universal access to power of 100 per cent by 2020 through their last mile connectivity project.
''The government has issued a directive which we wish to abide by and ensure that the Kenyan population irrespective of where they are domiciled get connected to power. Currently we are at 73 per cent and are still on course for more to come onboard,'' he said.
Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tobias Alando commended Kenya Power for having risen to the demands of consumers and ensuring sufficient power supply.
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'' For example in Coast region alone and Mombasa in particular, there were lots of complaints regarding power service. But in the last 6-8 months, complaints of power fluctuations and blackouts in the region have reduced drastically,'' Alando said.
Alalndo reported that KAM membership that largely consists of manufactures who are dabbed huge power consumers have easily embraced the association's energy efficient initiatives that have helped to keep costs low.
''We have been successful in encouraging our members (companies) to put in mechanisms to reduce energy costs by going through the now popular energy audits where firms are guaranteed to save up to 15 per cent ,'' Alando said.