Australian First as Delburn Wind Farm deploys fire detection technology

In an Australian first, the developers of the Delburn Wind Farm have deployed AI fire detection technology to monitor the surrounding plantation landscape and help keep the community safe.

Elizabeth Radcliffe, Executive Director Operations and Compliance at OSMI Australia said the new technology was a welcome fire detection tool.

“In a first for Australia and the wind farm industry, we have deployed Pano AI camera technology to monitor the wind farm site and HVP plantation to provide an additional fire detection capability.

As part of a pilot program, a Pano AI camera has been deployed to capture ultra-high-definition images and monitor the HVP planation and Delburn Wind Farm site. The camera captures 360-degree views over the plantation every minute, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On a clear day, the cameras can monitor up to 30 kilometres away.

“We take fire risk very seriously, as we know the Delburn Wind Farm is being built in a bushfire prone area. We have designed the Delburn Wind Farm to ensure it does not increase the already high risk of fire in the area.

“The Pano AI camera technology will provide the community and our host landowner, HVP confidence that any fire that starts in the plantation and surrounding area can be detected quickly and the location shared with emergency responders,’’ Elizabeth Radcliffe said.

The cameras continuously patrol the landscape and use AI technology to detect smoke and fire which is then verified by trained staff in the Pano Intelligence Centre. If a fire is confirmed, an alert is then sent to fire response agencies and wind farm staff.

Lou Bourke, HVP Plantations General Manager, Gippsland Region said they looked forward to learning from the trial: “HVP Plantations welcomes this innovation from Delburn Wind Farm in support of protecting lives and assets in our community.

“We work together with local CFA brigades, the Delburn Wind Farm workforce, Forest Fire Management Victoria, and HVP’s own CFA Forest Industry Brigades. Bolstering early fire detection can enable faster response times and reduce potential impacts of fires,” Lou Bourke said.

The Pano AI system is designed to detect and locate fires early when they are small and enable response teams put them out before they can grow into a large and dangerous fire that could cause serious damage.

Andrew Prolov, Head of Australia Go-To-Market at Pano AI said the camera project involved a collaborative approach to fire detection and preparedness.

“The Pano cameras use GPS and AI technology that can very precisely provide the co-ordinates of smoke to first responders. Video from the Pano AI camera can also be used by response teams to gather critical real time intelligence about the fire as teams mobilise.

“This technology will assist emergency services to detect fires faster and more accurately and respond more quickly. Getting to the fire quickly and supressing it is the main aim, and minute by minute updates can be provided to fire fighters to support their response. All together this increases the safety for both the first responders and the surrounding communities” Mr Prolov said.

The installation of fire detection cameras will be welcome news with the ten-year anniversary of the Hazelwood Mine Fire approaching next February as each of the Latrobe Valley coal mines are visible from the cameras.

For further information and latest updates on the Delburn Wind Farm visit delburnwindfarm.au

Additional background:

The Delburn Wind Farm site is located in the Strzelecki Ranges, to the south of the Latrobe Valley in Gippsland. The wind farm will be built in pine plantation centred on the Delburn area, covering the HVP Plantations’ Thorpdale Tree Farm and surrounded by Coalville, Narracan, Thorpdale, Darlimurla, Boolarra and Yinnar.

The Delburn Wind Farm will comprise of 33 turbines, up to 250m in height, generating up to 640MWh of renewable energy. Construction is due to commence in mid-2024 and have a 30-35 year operational life. Before construction can start, a detailed Fire Mitigation and Management Plan will be developed by the wind farm and approved by the Country Fire Authority.

Additional fire prevention measures included in the design of the Delburn Wind Farm include:

  • Built in fire detection and suppression systems in each of the 33 wind turbines
  • All electrical cables within the wind farm will be buried underground with just 100m of above ground connection to the existing transmission lines
  • The plantation will be cleared around the terminal station and physical barriers may be installed as an added fire protection
  • New water supplies with 5 x 100,000 litre water tanks, the location of which will be agreed with CFA. This is in addition to the many existing HVP water supplies within the plantation
  • A minimum 50 metre vegetation free area around the base of each turbine to provide an asset protection zone
  • All buildings will comply with the bushfire level building codes, including the Operations Centre
  • Each turbine will be equipped with a lightning protection system
  • Turbines will be spaced apart by at least double the recommendations specified by CFA: ‘turbines must be a minimum of 300 metres apart to allow firebombing aircraft to operate safely’
  • All staff permanently based at the wind farm will be fully trained CFA firefighters
  • The number, location and size of fire breaks within the plantation area will increase with additional access roads and underground cable routes allowing first responders easier access to move within the plantation

CFA reported statistics on fires in Latrobe City between 2010 and 2017 show that:

  • Around 96% of bushfires occured in scrub, bush and grass land
  • Approximately half of the fires were less than one hectare in size
  • 22% of fire ignition sources were unknown
  • Where known, the top three ignition factors were:
    • 32.7% Deliberately lit or suspicious fires
    • 9.4% Unattended or inadequately controlled fires in the open
    • 6.7% Fuel reduction burns on private land

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