Using GIS and laser technology in planning and cost estimation of transmission projects: a case study of electricity transmission companies in Kenya
Energy is an essential commodity in Kenya and worldwide. Energy is in any nation’s economy and in Kenya is among the key drivers of Vision 2030. In recognition of its importance to help in the realization of our vision, the government has invested a substantial amount of money towards improving the existing power lines as well as constructing new power lines. During the research, it was found that the Government through the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO), a state corporation charged with the responsibility of planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintaining high-voltage electricity transmission lines, fiber optic cables and associated substations in Kenya, that key power lines have already been proposed for construction within the next eighteen years at an approximated cost of over Two Billion Five Hundred Million UD Dollars (2.5B US$). The research done however revealed that there is a lack for a more accurate and transparent method to compute cost estimations for this lines. It is in this light that a more comprehensive research was embarked on to find ways in which more accurate cost can be acquired using the existing tools and technology. The primary factor of cost estimation in the currently employed method of estimating cost of the proposed power lines is distance. One of the main objectives of this research was therefore to establish all the factors that influence a cost of a power line. After identifying these factors, it was then essential to find out ways in which the factors could be consolidated in a way that they can be analyzed for a useful purpose. The research done therefore ensured that all the tools proposed for this task were the most useful for this purpose and that the most reliable implementation technique is employed. In carrying out this research, it was of paramount importance that the right technology and tools are identified and implemented in the most appropriate way. The main tools identified were Geographic Information System (GIS), Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and Inertial Navigation System (INS). The research tried to provide a solution to the challenge facing Transmission companies in the cost estimation of transmission lines. In the pursuit to achieve this objective, the above mentioned tools were identified as the most suitable for the task. The research done confirmed GIS to be the most ideal for this implementation. The other tools (LiDAR and INS) were qualified due to their ability to provide topographical data with the precision required for this undertaking. In order to qualify the research as a viable venture, a model was developed to show how data collected from GPS enabled tools like a mobile phone can be captured to a relational database and analyzed from a web-based system. As the government embarks on the mission to expand the power transmission network Kenya, in line with Vision 2030 Master Plan, it is of great importance that the current methods used to estimate the cost of high voltage transmission line projects are improved in order to enhance to achieve transparency and accuracy. This will not only help in appropriating funds more efficiently but also win confidence with financiers as well as taxpayers who meet the cost at the end of the day.