Drones to detect heat leakage

28th March 2024
News District heating

In Avesta, Sweden, we are currently flying drones over the district heating network. The aim is to locate leaks to avoid replacing lost district heating water, hence reducing the environmental impact.

Every few years, we photograph our district heating network in Avesta, Sweden, from the air with a thermal camera – so-called thermography. The airborne thermography is part of our preventive maintenance work to ensure the security of supply to our district heating customers. The aim is to look for leaks in the district heating network to avoid replacing lost district heating water, hence reducing the environmental impact.

“Via thermography, it is possible to detect any excess temperatures in the ground where the district heating pipes are located and based on that data, determine whether there are unnecessary energy losses or leakage on parts of the pipe stretches,” says Johan Mårtensson, Operation and Maintenance technician in Avesta.

The flight is carried out at night when the community has low activity, with a drone equipped with a thermal camera. During the night, it is easier to detect hidden, underground leaks on the district heating pipes.

“Two years ago, when we carried out drone flights in Avesta, many residents had missed the information we sent out and some thought it was UFOs. However, it was only our contractors who worked to ensure that we had secure heat deliveries,” says Johan Boström, Operations and Maintenance Manager in Avesta.

The drone flight is spread out on several occasions and is planned based on the weather conditions that prevail each week.

“Sub-zero temperatures and no snow or wind are optimal conditions for thermography. Therefore, the window for when we can carry out the flights is small,” concludes Johan Mårtensson.


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