HOT|COOL NO. 4/2021 - "Going Greener"

Danish Drone Systems, who developed the software, Shetland Heat Energy & Power Ltd. now has a thermal ortho map of the state of their pipes. It is precisely calculated from the tempera- tures measured around it. “The thermal drone survey will be an integral part of our asset management program in the future,” says Derek Leask. He has already ordered another survey for 22 January. Thousands of pounds saved on maintenance Hot water savings are not the most significant financial gain from the survey. That comes from being able to spot minor is- sues before they become big problems. Replacing and re-seal- ing an area of wet insulation is much easier than repairing a leaking pipe and can be done during regular working hours. “The thermal drone survey gives us an invaluable picture of the state of our 40-kilometer pipe network. We can see everywhere water has broken through the insulation, heats up, and affects the surroundings. This is normally shown in the soil or on the pavement. We can also detect any flaws that have led to little leaks in the welded pipe joints that can be addressed before becoming more serious. Although these are much less com- mon, it is still crucial to find them. Another major advantage is that we can then plan the renovation at a convenient time for customers and the community, which avoids unscheduled service interruption. The savings made by addressing a prob- lem early and avoiding a single big breakdown (by performing just one planned intervention) covers the full costs of the sur- vey,” explains Derek Leask. He continues: “Also, it’s much cheaper for us to repair minor faults during normal working hours instead of having to call out engineering contractors at 3 a.m. Plus, we avoid stopping

the traffic during rush hours to mend a sudden breakdown. The survey overview makes it possible to bundle all the repairs needed in one area, saving our asset management program several thousand pounds. This is another way in which the sur- vey pays for itself.” The thermal drone survey is so precise it also revealed problems on Lerwick’s private estates. Therefore, Shetland Heat Energy & Power Ltd. was able to contact customers and warn them that a valve or a heat exchanger on their property seemed to be losing heat. A minor repair could probably result in a lower heating bill. “Lerwick residents were initially a little worried about the drone flying over their houses in the dark. We explained that it did not carry ordinary cameras but a thermal sensor; and that it only revealed problem spots where we all could save money. They were also concerned that using drone-based thermogra- phy might mean the network was in poor condition. Our pipes are 20 years old, and naturally, there is some degradation over time. However, the drone survey now gives us a new tool for tackling this issue, and I think the community is pleased we will be able to keep the network in good condition for years to come. I think they are now reassured by living in an area where the latest technology is used to reduce energy consumption and C0 2 emissions,” concludes Derek Leask. Mentor scheme matchmaking The relationship between Scottish Shetland Heat Energy Power Ltd. and Danish Drone Systems was established through a mentoring scheme by Denmark’s leading district heating export organization, DBDH. “We heard about pipe-monitoring issues in Shetland and arranged contact with a leading specialist in thermal drone


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