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29 april 2021

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Amokabel’s new Australian subsidiary to help utilities deliver cost-effective bushfire protection 

Swedish manufacturer of lightweight covered conductors for overhead distribution networks plans to achieve economies of scale for bushfire risk areas

Specialist cable company amokabel has established a subsidiary in Australia to supply covered conductor for overhead power lines. By establishing the new business, amokabel plans to offer economies of scale to utility companies. According to studies by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), amokabel’s technology reduces risk of bushfires by 98 percent. It can be installed for as little as one quarter of the price of underground cable, making it the most cost-effective solution available.

Covered conductor is ideal to prevent bushfire risk and protect power continuity. Because the conductor is surrounded by multiple layers of insulation, the electrical current is contained if a power line falls onto dry vegetation or a tree branch drops onto it. This eliminates one of the main causes of bushfires. 

amokabel has already proved the concept under a series of pilot projects funded by Victoria State Government and delivered in partnership with Groundline Engineering and utility customers. The manufacturer developed lightweight covered conductor specifically for the Australian market. 

Peter Eriksson, CEO of amokabel’s power division says: “Our covered conductor has huge potential in Australia to save lives and reduce CO2 emissions from bushfires. Thanks to its lightweight design, utilities can deploy it on existing poles on a like-for-like basis without the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades.

“While it is suitable for any power distribution network in the country, we foresee initial demand coming from sites with elevated bushfire risk as it is quick and straightforward way to protect the network.” 

Whereas lightweight covered conductor is relatively new in Australia, other types of covered conductor are used. Lightweight covered conductor is well-established in Scandinavia, where it is manufactured. It is also used widely around the world, including in the Middle East and India. The insulation protects the grid from extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow and sandstorms. Importantly, it also provides health and safety protection for utility workers, members of the public and wildlife. 

Another notable opportunity is Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) network, which extends to around 200,000 kilometres nationally. Covered conductor makes economic sense for these extremely long lines that transmit electricity to remote communities.

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