Power China was hired to complete the construction of about 265 miles of power line within seven months in Kenya after a Spanish utility company, who began the work, went bankrupt. This was a rather large undertaking for Power China given the timeframe. However, that’s where the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) came in. Power China used drones to mount 400-kilovolt power lines on pylons. The use of these drones helped cover long distance much faster in a region with poor roads, heavy, long rains and many wild animals. This was the first time that Power China used drones to lay powerlines. Power China said that the use of drones allowed the construction time within that seven month period which saved the taxpayers in monthly fines. This power line that Power China constructed was to connect the Lake Turkana Wind Power project which would carry electricity from Loiyangalani in the northern part of Kenya to Suswa in Narok County. If the power lines had been delayed, power users would have to pay the owners of Turkana plant monthly because the wind farm was already ready for launch last year but remained unused because of the lack of transmission lines.
Typically, these types of projects are done using helicopters and/or workers climbing the towers. However, those methods are time consuming and dangerous for the workers. This is a great example of how drones are cutting costs, time and worker injury in the utility industry.