Transpower NZ Ltd is the Government owned SOE responsible for the delivery of electricity from the generators to the customer across New Zealand via their nationwide electrical distribution grid. A critical part of this grid are the undersea cables traversing the Cook Straight between the North and South Islands of NZ.
Whilst a significant portion of New Zealand's electricity is generated in the South Island using renewable hydro-electric generators across multiple locations, the largest population and therefore demand for electricity is in the North Island.
The area where the cables traverse the Cook Straight is known as the Cable Protection Zone (CPZ), and is regulated by the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996 (SCPP). To ensure security of electricity supply and safety of mariners, anchoring and fishing in the CPZ are prohibited under the SCPP. Breaches can incur penalties up to $250,000 and vessel forfeiture.
The CPZ is well documented and marked on marine charts, with day marks providing physical indicators during daylight hours. At night, marine lanterns define the CPZ by displaying either a "Red" or "White" light depending upon your position in the CPZ. A Red signal means you are in the prohibited area, whereas White indicates an unrestricted area.
The lanterns used to define the CPZ therefore must be capable of providing accurate and reliable information to mariners to ensure their's and the cables safety. In the event of any prosecutions under the SCPP, these lanterns would be relied upon to show that the mariner had available highly accurate information as to their location within the CPZ.
In addition to the above, the customer's requirements also mandated that the light meet long range visibility requirements, have clearly defined Red and White sectors, be suitable for off-grid solar powered remote locations and most importantly come with well proven reliability.
The ODSL200 Omni Directional LED High Precision Sector Lantern from Sabik Marine (Sabik) was chosen by Transpower for this project. In addition to meeting all the requirements above, it also offered the optional advanced remote access communications using Sabik's LightGuard remote monitoring web based system, and Bluetooth programming via the standard LightGuard Bluetooth module.
In association with lead contractor Mr Tony Pearson of Future Energy Ltd, with support and assistance from Dave Mundy of Southern Hydrographic Ltd and Ian Jones of Vega, we were able to deliver and commission this project involving replacing all 4 sector lights in four locations on both sides of the Cook Straight within the tight timeframe set by Transpower, even allowing for Wellington's challenging winter weather.
"Let me first say thank you very much to Tony and the team for a successful project. We commissioned the lights with days to spare.
We have also already have had good feedback on the performance of these lights."
MARIO FERARU | HVDC and Power Electronic Service Delivery Manager | Transpower New Zealand Ltd
The ODSL200s are designed to require minimal maintenance. However, Transpower's staff will visit regularly to undertake vegetation control and basic cleaning of the lantern's exterior lens weathershields, and whilst they are there they can use the Bluetooth app on their smartphones to quickly check the lantern and the status of the battery and panel charging etc.
In the unlikely event of any issue, the lantern's data log can be downloaded using the Bluetooth app and then forwarded to ourselves via text or email for evaluation. This is done quickly without any special tools, equipment or specialized training and most importantly without having to open or remove the lantern from its mounting structure, so therefore not affecting the lantern's precise alignment in relation to the CPZ.
These lanterns are designed to provide reliable performance and to last for at least 15 Years in even the harshest of locations like the Cook Straight, so we are pleased to be able to have been involved in supplying Transpower these world class high precision Sector lights for the critical electricity network for New Zealand.
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