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New technology to stop bushfires starting from power lines

New technology to stop bushfires starting from power lines

High-voltage power lines have been the source of many deadly bushfires, as a result of sparking, this could be reduced by up to 90 per cent by world-first technology to be installed on the electricity distribution network in the state of Victoria, Australia.

The government on Monday will release regulations that require all power distributors in the state to install new Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters. This technology has been developed in Victoria in response to the Black Saturday Royal Commission, 119 people died in these fires in 2009.

Researcher Dr Tony Marxsen said the system is triggered when a tree fell on a power line or a cable hit the ground. The limiter then drastically reduces the voltage to a current flow that is not enough to spark a fire.

The state government contributed $5.5 million to the research and development of the new technology, which has been extensively tested more than 2000 times, including in Black Saturday conditions. Trials have shown the technology can reduce by 10 times the likelihood of a bushfire starting from high voltage powerlines.

The installation of the limiters will complement programs in areas of acute bushfire risk where electricity distributors are required to progressively replace their powerlines by insulating the cables or burying them underground.

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Asia Pacific Fire, Editor