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Cutting edge technology to help in fight against bushfires

The final phase of a trial of cutting edge technology to better protect Victorians from the risk of powerline related bushfires has ended. Source: Timberbiz

Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio inspected world-first testing of Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) technology at a test site in Kilmore and said the technology could help make Victorian communities safer from bushfires and increase the reliability of the state’s power supply.

The REFCL technology works by reducing an electrical current within milliseconds of detecting that a powerline has come into contact with the ground or vegetation, suppressing a fault before it can start a fire.

Testing at the Kilmore site shows the REFCL technology can reduce by 10-times the likelihood of a bushfire starting from a high voltage powerline fault.

The Victorian trial has taken technology used overseas to reduce faults in underground cable networks and adapted it so it can be used to significantly reduce the risk of bushfires caused by powerline faults.

The Kilmore trial has drawn international attention and has placed Victoria as a world leader in bushfire powerline safety research.

The last phase of the trial has ended and final recommendations will be submitted to the government later this year.  The innovative technology at the Kilmore test site has been purchased by power distributor AusNet Services.

The Labor Government has allocated $5.5 million for the testing of the REFCL technology as part of the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program.

To further reduce the risk of powerline related bushfires, the Labor Government has provided $200 million to replace high voltage bare-wire powerlines in areas of highest bushfire risk and $40 million to provide backup generator auto start power supply to residential care facilities with critically power dependent clients.

And, still on the topic of bushfire, back in August the Commonwealth Minister for Justice Michael Keenan announced $2.712 million in funding over three years to enhance bushfire mitigation in Victoria, as part of the Commonwealth’s National Bushfire Mitigation Program.

Victorian Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett welcomed the contribution and said the Victorian Government and other organisations would match the funding to the tune of $2.712 million over three years.

“Bushfires are a fact of life in Australia and they can be devastating for the communities in their path,” Mr Keenan said.

“We’re funding projects that will help to minimise risks to communities from bushfires and reduce the costs of reconstruction and recovery.”

Minister Garrett said the funding is being provided to support activities that are important to Victoria, including Victoria’s first state bushfire management strategy, an enhanced fire protection program using fuel reduction burns, upgrading fire trails and facilitating a targeted grants program to support local bushfire mitigation initiatives.

“Victoria is prone to bushfires and this funding will help to limit the effect and consequences of natural disasters on our communities,” Ms Garrett said.

The $15 million National Bushfire Mitigation Program delivers on a Coalition Government election commitment to cement Commonwealth partnership with all States and Territories to build on their existing bushfire management practices and implement strategies to address bushfire risks.