The ‘Falcon Shield’ is a recent innovation from ENI that’s helping electricity lines companies ensure they meet reliability standards, while affording protection to the Kārearea, New Zealand’s only native falcon. It’s now available to the New Zealand market, says ENI’s business development manager Dave Fletcher.

‘’We are working with Aurora Energy to roll out the first series of Falcon Shields across Central Otago later in 2018, and are talking to power companies throughout New Zealand about how we can apply this innovation to minimise bird-related supply interruptions, particularly where endangered species are involved.’’

Lines companies (the distributors of electricity in New Zealand) must meet annual reliability targets set by the Commerce Commissions. They are how many minutes a consumer is, on average, without electricity supply in a year; and how often the average consumer would experience an electricity outage annually. Consequently lines companies are always looking for ways of reducing any interruptions to supply to achieve their targets, while reducing the costs of dealing with these issues.

A surprisingly common cause of outages in different parts of New Zealand is our native falcon, the Kārearea. As a bird of prey, Kārearea perch on the cross-arms of overhead power lines as a vantage point while hunting. Due to the length of their wing span, they often bridge the lines when they take off, causing electrocution and death. The electricity lines often trip out when the birds connect with them, resulting in outages and the subsequent cost of lines companies finding and repairing the damage. As well as negatively impacting their reliability standards.

ENI has been collaborating with Aurora Energy, Delta Utility Services and the Department of Conservation to apply some innovative thinking that supports electricity supply security, while protecting the birds. With around 4,000 breeding pairs in the wild, they’re classified as an endangered species.

The result of this collaboration is the Falcon Shield, designed to insulate and safeguard the cross-arms to make them safer for Kārearea and reducing the chances of a line outage. Made from the same recycled plastic ENI use when manufacturing power distribution boxes, it has a length of 0.935mm and is designed to fit 100 x 100 galvanised or wooden cross arms. The Falcon Shields can be fitted with new installations or retrofitted. 

An elegantly simple solution, the Falcon Shield a cost-effective solution for protecting electricity supply reliability on a large scale. And allowing the Kārearea to perch safely on the power equipment, continuing to hunt without danger of electrocution.

Through the conceptual design process and subsequent manufacturing, it has become clear that not only can this product protect our native Kārearea from electrocution, but we can now reduce the number of outages caused by all species of birds.

The College of Engineering at the University of Canterbury has carried out independent testing of the Falcon Shield. The full report is available here.

If you’d like to find out more about the Falcon Shield and how it is being deployed with New Zealand lines companies, contact us.