Bushfires can damage power infrastructure, destabilising grids, and lead to power cuts for homes and businesses. Energy Network Australia published information stating that Australia’s electricity networks extend about 918,000 km with more than seven million power poles – most are above ground and extend deep into the bush.
The 2007 Tatong bushfire in Victoria Australia resulted in the loss of power to over 620,000 households and almost 67,000 businesses, costing the economy A$234 million.
The December 2019/January 2020 fires in Australia resulted in thousands of kilometres of damage to the power network, more than 5,000 power poles destroyed or required replacement and more than 80,000 power outages across the National Electricity Market (NEM). Restoration of fire damage and other natural disasters are a major expense.
The cost to replace a timber pole can be between $7,500 – $14,500 depending on the location, construction requirements, and site environment. In addition, it may take weeks or months.
A collaboration between FSI and UNSW over the past 3 years has seen the development of a cost-effective solution to minimise the damage to vulnerable power poles and other critical assets.
FSI solution is to the wrap power pole bases with FSI-Membrane to prevent ignition and subsequent failure of the power pole. Recently a successful pilot tested was undertaken under the supervision of the Jamberoo Rural Fire Service on Saddleback Mountain, Kiama and their feedback was very positive regarding the outcome. A video of the pilot can be seen here https://vimeo.com/484250873.
FSI is now working towards undertaking large scale testing at CSIRO and The University of Queensland as well as certifications prior to making FSI-Membrane commercially available later this year.