Image: Adobe

Finnish duo harness satellite imagery to detect leaks in district heating network

Finnish companies Fortum and Advian have partnered for a pilot project that combines the location data of the existing district heating network with satellite data to detect possible leaks.


If successful, Fortum and Advian will make redundant the thermal imaging flyovers done by helicopters, eliminating the noise pollution experienced by local residents during the imaging.

Satellites can detect thermal differences on the ground surface with an accuracy of 0.1 degrees. Possible pipe leaks can be not only detected from their images, but also accurately distinguished from other heat sources, such as buildings and cars.

satellite image

The pilot project is being undertaken in the municipalities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Kirkkonummi. Image: Fortum

The pilot’s goal is to illustrate that satellite images are a quicker and most cost-efficient method of detecting possible leaks than the the current, less frequent thermal imaging. This greater efficiency improves the ability to ensure the reliable supply of district heating.

Combining existing data sources with satellite imagery and analysing and processing the output data is a way to create data that can be used in predictive maintenance processes. Along with that, Fortum is actively investing in automation, overall optimisation and demand response.

“As district heating transitions to carbon-neutral and non-combustible heat production, we will also need digital solutions to support the transition,” said Fortum’s smart energy systems lead, Viki Kaasinen.

“These kinds of pilots are important in the process.”

The pilot project is being undertaken during May–June in the Greater Helsinki municipalities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Kirkkonummi.

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