Redeia's contribution to fighting fires via invention and prevention

With more frequent and extreme heat waves, we can already say that climate change is a fact. The combination of our nation's ongoing drought and the severe temperatures that have shattered global records in 2022 has led to one of the worst environmental and social calamities we have ever seen: forest fires. A situation that emphasizes the necessity to quicken the energy transition while taking all essential measures to prevent and lessen the effects of wildfires. 

In these urgent situations, the firefighting units, emergency services, Military Emergency Unit, and State security forces have shown an unmatched ability for dedication, hard work, and sacrifice.  As a society, we should be proud and thankful. Redeia, a corporation with a vocation for public service, is dedicated to a struggle to which we can and must contribute our bit. 

What steps do we take at Redeia to ensure the supply is safe and of high quality in the event of a fire?

Fires that occur close to transmission grid facilities, usually high-voltage lines, can have a direct impact on them:

•    Damage to lines caused by high temperatures.
•    Untimely tripping of the lines caused by smoke from the fire as the air is ionised and its electrical capacity is reduced.
•    The absence of installations, either because they must be disconnected owing to being in the path of the flame front or because the competent authorities have requested that they be removed due to the danger they pose to successfully extinguishing the fire (due to the presence of firefighting equipment in the vicinity, whether by land or air).

Except in the most extreme circumstances, incidents brought on by fires do not typically result in power failures for the public because of the highly interconnected nature of our electricity transmission grid.

The responsible administration in each AC notifies Red Eléctrica of the location of any extraordinary forest fires that require taking a transmission grid line or substation out of service, as well as the line or substation that needs to be shut down.

After notifying the regional maintenance unit and taking the facility out of service, the corresponding Control Center deploys its maintenance teams to react to the incident.

Additionally, Red Eléctrica offers its assistance and works with the appropriate authorities.

But since our duty extends far further, we also seek to avoid fires. What steps can we take to stop fires from starting?

The demanding internal regulation for the prevention and extinction of forest fires, which specifies the standards and guidelines to be applied in the construction and maintenance works and activities of Red Eléctrica's facilities in order to minimize the risk of forest fires, guides the construction and maintenance work performed on Red Eléctrica's facilities. 
The most significant preventative measures taken by Red Eléctrica to avoid and combat forest fires, in addition to these execution standards, are as follows:

Vegetation management 

By removing and trimming trees, we were able to make passageways under our power line. The following advantages of this vegetation management are shown below:

•    It reduces the risk of forest fires starting as a result of the electrical installation.
•    Due to the low density of the forest mass, which acts as the fire's fuel, it reduces damage to the electrical installation in the case of a fire.
•    It aids in the task of firefighters while extinguishing forest fires.

“Pastoreo en red” has also been promoted by Redeia. This social innovation initiative seeks to use extensive livestock farming to limit vegetation growth underneath our power lines in areas where Red Eléctrica equipment is present. 

The initiative, which has gotten excellent feedback ever since it began, has a significant positive impact on the environment.  In addition to encouraging substantial extensive farming, which is more ecologically responsible and sustainable, it also stimulates the natural cleansing of forests and meadows.

Innovation in technology and digital media

Redeia is a leader in technological advancement, digitization, and telecommunications, including satellite services, which are implemented through its subsidiary businesses. These services have limitless prospects, and Redeia has created a wide range of services for the development of innovative solutions to prevent and extinguish fires, as well as restore the environment through strategic collaborations: 

•    With the help of Pyro, one of Elewit's III Advanced Venture Client startups, and our satellite company Hispasat, we have created a ground-breaking early fire detection system using a system of linked sensors and the Internet of Things.

The strategically positioned Pyro sensors, which have had autonomy for many years, keep an eye on variables like temperature, relative air humidity, carbon monoxide, and CO2 levels, wind speed and direction, among others. This data is continually gathered in real-time and delivered to a data collection point with a solar-powered satellite antenna that is likewise situated in the forest. With the use of this information, we are able to monitor fires continuously, including at night, discover them early, and predict how they will develop in nearby forested regions.

•    Thanks to the “Motor Verde” initiative's boost. With HISPASAT serving as a technology partner, this is the biggest reforestation initiative ever undertaken in Spain. It is being directed by Fundación Repsol.  In order to absorb 16 million tons of CO2 and create 15,000 jobs in rural areas, it plans to reforest 70,000 hectares of land over the next 5 to 7 years. 

Training, public awareness campaigns, and administrative cooperation

•    In order to develop research, training, and awareness-raising programs for the prevention and battle against forest fires, we currently have 11 partnership agreements in place. 
•    Every year, we host a variety of training on electrical installations, forest fire prevention, and firefighting with the State Security Forces and Corps of the different administrations. Training courses on preventing forest fires have been scheduled for 2022 in a number of our nation's AC.
•    Specialized instruction for facility maintenance personnel that focuses on both prevention and response to a fire in order to reduce its impact and spread. 

The major methods we have for preventing fires are the energy transition and the battle against climate change, but while we implement them, everyone must take care of and protect our ecosystems and the safety of our population.