Ringfencing a Smarter Future
Ringfencing a Smarter Future

Safety and security are paramount when you have energy assets that millions rely upon for their daily needs. CLP China has come up with ingenious ways to keep a watch over their power plants across the country, including virtual fencing and smart glasses.


CLP China has a burgeoning portfolio of more than 50 power generation assets spread across 15 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities – which means millions of people could be affected by any security breach or safety issue at its plants.


Keeping them safe and secure is a complex challenge as the portfolio continues to grow, but emerging technology has provided novel solutions from the farming and manufacturing industry.


CLP China has begun to set up virtual fences commonly used in farms to control livestock and to keep an eye on its plants and alert managers to any breaches of security. Meanwhile, it has also adopted smart glasses used by manufacturing workers to improve safety inspections.


Invisible lines of defence

CLP China’s Huaiji Hydro Power Station in Guangdong province, which consists of 12 individual hydropower stations, began installing 28 virtual fences at main entrances and critical and high-risk areas in April last year.


The virtual fences are equipped with an image-based intelligent intrusion detection system using virtual reality technology, which can detect entries as well as keep workers from inadvertently straying into dangerous areas.

In addition to artificial intelligence-powered imaging, the systems have optical and thermal cameras that are able to capture images at night and during adverse weather conditions.


Before the virtual fences were installed, the Huaiji project team carried out more than 100 tests to ensure they were fit for purpose, and made modifications when trees were mistakenly identified as people during trial runs.


After the modifications, the system has an overall accuracy rate of more than 70%, which is expected to be further improved with the help of machine learning.


Virtual fence
People are easily detected when they enter the virtual fence areas.


Virtual fences have clear advantages over physical fences, eliminating construction and maintenance costs, and enabling 24-hour surveillance compared with manual patrol which is time consuming and can only be done during daytime. Security staff are also freed up from patrols and on-site surveillance for other operational tasks.


They are flexible and can be altered and moved depending on the needs and demands of the moment. They can also target dangerous areas employees may need to be alert to, increasing the plant’s safety and operational efficiency.

Virtual fence at a dam
A worker is alerted by a beeping alarm as he approaches a high-risk area enclosed by a virtual fence.

Developing 20/20 vision

Nearly 1,500 km away at Jiangbian Hydro Power Station in Sichuan province, another ingenious piece of technology has been tested and implemented to help improve efficiency and communication in maintenance and safety checks.


Inspectors wear lightweight smart glasses equipped with augmented reality technology to allow for handsfree communication and instant information sharing with remote colleagues.


Two sets of smart glasses were put to test at the station earlier this year, with frontline employees wearing safety helmets with the glasses attached to share what they were seeing at a dam and project site with management teams in Hong Kong and Chengdu.


The smart glasses allowed the management teams to give real-time feedback and suggest immediate rectification measures to the employees, allowing teams to operate more efficiently and avoiding the need for additional travel during the pandemic.

Watch this video to see a trial operation of smart glasses at Jiangbian Hydro Power Station in Sichuan province in February.



As well as capturing high quality images, the smart glasses can record videos from distances of up to five metres for backend data analysis.


Jiangbian Hydro Power Station Manager Wu Xun explains: “Smart glasses allow executives and experts to see the environment in question from a distance. This allows for remote supervision and creates opportunities for more cross-team cooperation in the future.”


After the success of the trial, smart glasses have been introduced at other CLP China sites, including Huaiji Hydro Power Station, Fangchenggang Power Station in Guangxi province, and Qian’an Wind Farm in Jilin province.

Inspection of power plant equipment
Smart glasses attached to safety helmets are used during an inspection of power plant equipment, allowing managers hundreds of miles away to be part of the process.


Connecting to a smarter future

Technology and innovation are shaping a smarter future – but one challenge project teams face as they expand their reach is most of CLP China’s renewable assets are in rural, mountainous areas. Network stability, therefore, remains a technical hurdle to be overcome before innovative solutions can be adopted more widely.


Despite the constraints, the rapid development of digital infrastructure in recent years means there is the prospect of a brighter and more interconnected future as more and more parts of the country are transformed.


CLP China will continue to invest in new technologies and initiatives for its assets, supporting the digital transformation of both the company and the county’s flourishing energy industry.