Vaisala provides a lightning detection system to an electricity transmission network in southern Russia to help minimize power outages caused by lightning strikes. The project is part of a large electricity transmission modernization program for the Russian national grid.

The system helps identify lightning-induced transmission line faults as they happen, which means that repair crews can be dispatched immediately to restore service. It also provides an improved understanding of where lightning may occur, making it possible to pre-position the repair crews to minimize outage time further.

"The system has the capability to provide greater than 90% detection of all lightning strikes. It uses VHF (very high frequency) technology to detect and map the small pulses emitted by cloud lightning events, and a renowned LF (low frequency) technology to locate cloud-to-ground strokes within 250 meters. No other equipment in the world has as powerful capability", says Nikki Hembury, Product Manager for Vaisala's thunderstorm systems.

"The first system will be delivered as a pilot project to evaluate how effective total lightning detection is for Russia's transmission system reliability and operations support. We are confident that the customer will find a lot of value in this information, and we hope to embark on a long lasting collaborative relationship", Nicholas Wilson, Vaisala's Regional Market Segment Manager adds.

The system comprises four Vaisala LS8000 Thunderstorm Total Lightning Sensors with related hardware and software. Installation services and training are part of the package. The detection network will be installed in the Rostov Oblast area in southern Russia, and it will be operational by the end of March 2011. Expected benefits are significant, as lightning causes some 50% of the power outages in the area.

Vaisala works as a subcontractor in the project to a local integrator Streamer Company.