In a world–first, two Australian power companies are trialling a new conductor that will reduce the likelihood of powerlines starting bushfires.

CitiPower and Powercor are trialling a new high-voltage, LoSAG covered conductor in the Otway Ranges, ahead of the hot summer season.

The conductor is a low sag/high tension covered conductor designed to be a direct replacement for the bare wire 3/12 steel conductor that is used extensively across the Powercor rural overhead network.

This is a world first application of this technology.

The conductor has a carbon fibre core to give it the strength required to span over 300 metres. The carbon fibre core is surrounded by a layer of aluminium, which carries the current, and an outer plastic coating that provides a level of electrical protection in the event of a “wire on ground”, “branch on wire” or “high load impact” situation.

Compared to the traditional galvanised steel conductor, the LoSAG conductor is 60 per cent stronger, marginally lighter, and has a higher current-carrying capability and  lower DC resistance.

This results in less voltage drop issues on rural networks.

Government Programs Manager, Dene Ward, said it was an exciting project not only for Powercor but for the power industry in general.

“A number of bushfire-prone networks are interested in the outcomes of our trial as they all have similar circumstances to Powercor,” Ms Ward said.

“Operating across fire-prone areas of Australia, they too are looking for innovative technologies to help them reduce their overall bushfire risk.”

Testing and evaluation of the cable is being coordinated by Madhuka Ganegoda from the Technical Standards Group in conjunction with the cable manufacturer, Nexans.

“As this is a brand new conductor technology, we have had to develop a testing regime from scratch as there is currently no applicable Australian or IEC standard for such a conductor,” Ganegoda said.

“It is critical that this product covers our three focus areas of Safety, Commercial and Regulator compliance, and we will effectively be pioneering the foundations for a future Australian Standard for this technology.”

The 1.3km trial site in the Otway Ranges will conclude at the end of the year, at which time a technical recommendation will be made.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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