An ecologic cable covered with polyethylene to be used in electric power distribution lines preventing the interruption of the electrical service caused by the momentary or permanent contact of trees or animals with the lines. Therefore, avoiding or reducing the need to cut down the trees, preventing fires, and generating less CO2 from the reconnection of the energy lines.
Mariana Guerrero Carcur
EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey
MARTIN H BREMER
The energy distribution systems in Colombia cross different areas, such as forests, roads, and cities, that are regularly populated or with a high animal presence. This makes the distribution systems easily accessible for animals and people, as well as tree branches. 80% of failures that happen due to drops in the electrical supply are attributed to contact with objects or branches that are in the electrical network. To avoid network outages due to contact with branches, tree pruning must be done. But this practice is usually not carried out with the proper techniques, also called drastic or severe pruning, ending the life of the intervened tree. "Sadly, it is easier to cut down a tree than to run the entire energy network of the city," Carlos Barona, Chief of Ecology at Centelsa, commented.
The ecological cable is a solution to this problem. The innovation is a medium voltage cable that is covered with polyethylene (XLPE-TK), that has a manufacturing process like a medium voltage cable, the difference being that it does not have metallic screens and goes through a process where special insulation is applied. This isolation prevents, when it comes into contact with the tree, that the energy is grounded, the second thing it does is that when there are rains, it no longer produces discharges. And clearly, as there is no longer an impact on the energy system, this prevents branches or trees from being cut down.
The main clients of this product are network operators found in Colombia (CALI, EPM, Celsia and Coensa). Centelsa manufactures and sells the product, while the network operators oversee and carry out the entire assembly and maintenance process of the network. The ecological cable is 20-30% more expensive than a conventional cable, but the customer is willing to pay it because it comes with less operational expenses. The network operator compensates the investment with the savings of not having to hire someone and buying or renting the machinery to cut the branches of the tree, equal to the cost of reconnecting the network. They also avoid coming into conflict with many communities that defend trees.
Centelsa is a company that is committed to the sustainable development of the planet and the community, placing this as its main axis of action in the corporate strategy. One of Centelsa's commitments is to seek efficiency in the use of energy. The company knows that the market tendency will be to seek products that generate less emissions, so the innovation of this ecological cable is just one of this efforts to create value and be competitive.
One of Centelsa's main projects are related to carbon footprint, within this issue the company is working on two important projects: corporate carbon footprint and product carbon footprint. This second project is closely related to the innovation of the ecological cable because the project's methodology is to analyze all the environmental impacts in the life of any given product, which they call "from the cradle to the grave”. This process was done with the traditional cable and then the design department at the company developed the ecological cable.
Centelsa covered cables are the most viable alternative from a technical, economic and environmental perspective thanks to their layers that avoid direct contact with the bare conductor. This product helps to avoid or reduce the cutting of trees and offers its main customer a better quality product while giving end-customers reliability in the supply of electrical energy.
“Our advantage as a company is that we are able to offer this type of alternative to operators,” Carlos commented. Clearly, in one way or another, the company was aware that this was causing a problem and that it was a problem not only of loss of energy but also an issue of impact on the forest resource. “What we do is provide you with a product that meets that need,” Carlos proudly shared.
Centelsa created this product and the competition, seeing that the trend is to migrate towards this type of cables, has also been releasing similar types of ecological products. This also speaks greatly about the product.
The ecological cable gives Centelsa´s customers a higher quality product, with a higher cost but with lower operational and maintenance costs due to the drastic reduction of the rate of failures in the network.
The innovation benefits society by providing less interruption in power supply, thus reducing signal interference for final users.
On the environmental side, this innovation allows the natural development of trees at an urban and rural level. It also avoids or reduces the pruning of trees that are in contact with ecological cables.
And finally, by avoiding the interruption of the energy supply, its use becomes more efficient and therefore contributes to a decrease in the generation of carbon dioxide (CO2).
“As a society we have already changed the paradigm of the Industrial Revolution, where the goal was to produce without paying attention to traceability. Society has already generated an awareness and no longer tolerates business behaviors that harm the environment,” Carlos believes.
Carlos Andrés Barona, Jefe de Ecología, Centelsa Viakable
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Municipio de Yumbo, Valle de Cauca, CO
Year Founded: 1955
Number of Employees: 501 to 1000
Centelsa was founded in 1955 and is the first and most important company in Colombia dedicated to the manufacturing of cables for energy and communications, as well as one of the most recognized in Latin America. In recent years, Centelsa has built a network of strategically located offices to cover the national and international market, while establishing itself as a multinational company with a significant presence in countries of the Andean region, such as Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina, as well as the United States and various countries in Central America and the Caribbean. It has a wide portfolio of products, such as: construction cables, cables for instrumentation and control, cables for low, medium, and high voltage, telecommunications cables, flexible cables, bare copper cables, bare aluminum cables and magnet wires. In 2012, Centelsa became a part of the cable division in the Mexican industrial consortium: Xignux.