Category Archives: Rural Planning

Tom Na Clach Windfarm Grid Connection Planning Application

VentusAR visualisations have been used on the Tom Na Clach windfarm Grid connection! The landscape and visual assessment for this project was completed by one of our clients who were keen to try out VentusAR on a planning application.

Tom Na Clach Grid connection is a project to connect the consented Tom Na Clach wind farm to the national grid. It is proposed to be a wood pole connection of approximately 15km of wood pole supporting a 132kV circuit. It has been submitted to Highland council and has planning application notice of 16/05709/S37.

Visualisations

Visualisations have been created to Highland Council Standards using VentusAR. Below are some examples of the visualisations submitted – for Viewpoint 1 there is an example of the baseline panorama, matching wireline and photomontage.

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The full PDF for the viewpoint can be downloaded below.

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To find out more about how VentusAR can help produce visualisations for planning applications, get in touch hello@ventusar.com

Visualisation for the Next Generation of Power Engineers

I watched a webcast and was struck by the amount of work and systems involved in creating a “real world” 3D model.

The webcast was an Autodesk webcast called Visualisation for the Next Generation of Power Engineers. I’ve embedded it below if you fancy a watch.

This webcast takes the watcher through the process of creating a visually rich 3D model of a Grid project. It incorporates loading data from lots of sources and creating a 3D visualisation to explain the design of the electrical system.

Autodesk highlight their value proposition as:

  • leveraging enterprise GIS and Design model information to enhance collaboration and project insight.
  • 3D models can be used as a means of communication for public outreach.

Building a model vs Using the Real World

My thought was that Autodesk spent a long time modelling the world. They loaded LiDAR data into Civils3D to provide a baseline, added new changes to the earthworks, add the new project before finally creating a visualisation. This all takes time, expertise and equipment to do. Could it be done quicker and cheaper any other way?

We use the real world as the basis of our visualisation solution. Our solutions allow us to place any 3D model at any location in the landscape. We have successfully added many different types of models ranging from 13m wood poles to 50m towers to new substations – all visualised in the real world – not a virtual world.

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Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 16.56.50For more information about how VentusAR can be used to visualise Grid projects for design and stakeholder engagement get in touch: hello@ventusar.com or 0141 374 2741

Conductor Line Sag in Grid Projects

One of the features we  added recently is drawing realistic looking Conductor lines between towers on our Grid projects.

Prior to VentusAR 5.4 we drew straight lines between the connector points on the tower models. This had the effect of fairly unrealistic looking conductor lines as even across the shortest distance the conductor lines sag slightly due to gravity.

This post shows some examples of the line sag development and adds some more detail on how the line sag is calculated.

Catenary Formula

The line sag formula we use when displaying the conductor lines on a transmission project is based on a generalisation of the catenary formula. To calculate the sag at a given point we use the following formula:

LineSag_Formula

Where:

  • a is half the distance between towers (in meters)
  • y is the drop at that point in the conductor (in meters)

Maths Example

Lets take a worked example, if the towers were 200m apart, then the variable a would be 100. We can calculate the value at three sample points:

  • at x = 0 the sag due is calculated as 0m – which would make sense – it is at the top of the tower
  • at x = 200 the sag is calculated as 0m – it also makes sense as it at the top of the other tower
  • at x= 100, the sag calculated is 10.033m – this is the bottom of the catenary curve

This is easiest shown with a graph. Below is a screenshot (with slight optical illusion):

LineSag_Graph

Visual Example

When drawing the line sag, we calculate thirty points along the wire and work out the sag between each of those points  – we then draw a series of straight lines between each point.  Our curve is actually a series straight lines between each of these points, but as you can see the visual impact is effective.

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Line sag modelling has been added to all Grid projects that use conductor lines.

Limitations

This is only an approximation of how line sag works, I have asked an engineer how line sag is actually calculated and discovered it is far more complicated than I wanted to represent in a generic Visual Assessment tool like VentusAR.

This formula could cause conductor lines to be drawn underground – it is up to the person who set up the model to ensure that the span between towers is reasonable.  Custom modelling is, of course, available on any project where additional detail is required.

More Information

For more information about line sag and how we can help you visualise and assess your Grid projects, tower and conductor lines, give us a shout at hello@ventusar.com

New SNH Visualisation Guidance Published (Lighting)

We were reminded today that the latest version of the SNH “Visual Representation of Wind Farms” came out of draft and was published last month (February 2017).

Version 2.2 of the guidance is an iterative update following the major release update (v2.0) in summer 2014 and the v2.1 revisions in December the same year.

A summary document of changes has been published as a separate download and provides practitioners and interested parties a rapid insight into the changes without the need to compare paragraph by paragraph.  The major change, impacting visual assessment and output for new developments is in paragraphs 174-177:

Turbine Lighting

For turbines in excess of 150m, the need to consult on new lighting visuals is now required.  Although future technical mitigation may help here, there is currently the recommendation to capture images at dusk and create a photomontage based on existing lighting (static streets, moving vehicles, other aviation lighting).
The visualisation should use photographs taken in low light conditions, preferably when other artificial lighting (such as street lights and lights on buildings) are on, to show how the wind farm lighting will look compared to the existing baseline at night.

NOT the Way to Visualise Wind Turbine Lighting!

Specifically the guidance makes reference to innovation in that SNH “encourage applicants to explore new techniques to do this, and emphasise the importance of early dialogue

We are looking for someone who will be creating night light visualisations to ensure that our upcoming night light features being built into VentusAR will work. If you have a project at the right stage, get in touch!

Animation

As we have experienced with the difference between animated wind turbines when compared against static imagery, there is a big difference between views of lighting where all the turbines are at a “maximum visibility” (worst case scenario) visibility and a more normalised situation with different wind directions and rotation occluding lights at certain times.  The more realistic effect can create a fairy lights twinkling effect, but is more representative.

For any clients, landscape assessors, planners or developers interested in exploring new ways to communicate, please contact us at hello@ventusar.com

Showing Conductor Wires in VentusAR Grid projects

Easily the most eye catching part of a grid development are the conductor wires that join the towers together. As the lines are long and linear, they draw the eye in and therefore appear more noticeable.

Power lines by the Allt Phocaichain. © Copyright Craig Wallace

Power lines by the Allt Phocaichain. © Copyright Craig Wallace

 

The ability to view conductor wires on new development visualisations is something our clients have asked about a few times as it helps them to communicate the effect of transmission lines better.

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A few weeks ago we added support for showing these conductors on wirelines and photomontages (including the SNH compliant PDFs) created through VentusAR. Conductors are shown as a thin grey line joining the connection points on the tower or wood pole model.

To Enable Conductors on Grid project

If you would like to enable conductors on your organisation setup, please contact us at hello@linknode.co.uk.

Once support for wireline is added, it will show on all photomontages or wirelines produced using VentusAR.

Conductor wires are available for all grid 3D models we have produced and made available in VentusAR (read more about them in our post from earlier this year).

The order the models should be joined is defined in the portal using the sort order column on the layout version page, changing the order using the up and down arrows. The conductor lines will be drawn to join each tower in order.

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Results

We think the results look really good – the thin grey lines make the conductors look good in the landscape. This approach is what some of our customers are already doing on the visualisations they create.

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Photomontage with the conductor lines shown

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Wireline shown with conductor lines shown

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53.5° wireline (produced to SNH specifications) – Full file: Bogbain_Dumrossie_B9177

 

 

Assessing and Visualising Buildings in VentusAR

To effectively assess a new buildings project, developers and landscape architects must be able to see and understand a 3D model within the landscape.  VentusAR provides a simple but effective workflow of converting 2D CAD designs into 3D easy to understand visualisations.

  • Fly Through provides an overview of the area around the project.
  • My View shows what the development looks like while on site and the Gallery mode stores photography and allows render and PDF production.

Model the Site in CAD

Layouts for building developments are created in CAD software.
Here, a selection of different types of buildings have been added as blocks in AutoCAD.  The scale and rotation angle of the block is used to define the size and orientation of the building.

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Export from CAD and Import to VentusAR

Simply use built-in CAD commands (or custom scripts) to extract the location and orientation directly from the drawing.
Create a project in the VentusAR portal and efficiently import the file containing the building locations and dimensions.autocadtovar

Understand Context Using Fly Through

Opening the project in the VentusAR solution synchronises all data for offline use, automatically loading in the background terrain and mapping data.
The Fly Through mode provides an interactive project overview to communicate footprint and context in the landscape.  Navigation uses a combination of physical device orientation and intuitive screen gestures.

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Preview Visuals Onsite and Take Pictures

On-site visuals can be previewed from any location.  From pre-planned viewpoints to ad-hoc locations such as households and road junctions; VentusAR shows what a development will look like from wherever you are.
Photos are captured and stored in the Gallery, allowing layout revisions to be subsequently previewed without the requirement to return to site. Handheld-iPad

Produce Output Images and PDF Files

To share and communicate the visuals in scoping and feasibility reports, renders may be produced from the Gallery.
Different project presentation options include transparency, wireline, outline, lighting and masking.
Renders may be inserted into PDF templates with custom logos for presentation quality download.

Mark

VentusAR has been designed to integrate seamlessly into existing CAD design processes.  Utilising the same data for layouts and enabling rapid, yet powerful visuals extends the value of the design, allows for more iterative development and delivers higher value, higher quality visual communication with stakeholders.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your needs for assessing and visualising buildings using VentusAR. Call us on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com

Community Engagement for a Hoolan Energy Wind Development in Orkney

Last week we took part in our first full hands-on community engagement experience (although VentusAR has previously been used in many events by our clients themselves).

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We were commissioned by Hoolan Energy to provide visualisations for pre planning consultations on two Wind Farms on the Orkney Islands – Costa Head and Hesta Head.

Aerial photography of the Hesta Project

Aerial Photography Overlaid on a DTM Showing the Hesta Head Site

The first event on Wednesday was for the Costa Head site. The development is for up to five turbines up to 125m to tip.  We used a model of Vestas V105 turbines, with 72.5m height to hub and 52.5m blade length for visualisations.  Costa Head is located on the north west of the Orkney mainland and the event itself took place in the Birsay Community Hall.

On Thursday we were showcasing the Hesta Head site. Once again the development was for five Vesta V105 turbines with the same vital statistics as the Costa site. These would be located on the south east of South Ronaldsay, with the event taking place at the Cromarty Hall in St Margaret’s Hope.

We arrived with two visualisation options for each event – the first being a video show reel consisting of animated turbines displayed on viewpoint photography to demonstrate the extent of the project. The other was a bespoke piece of development work to allow instant visuals from any given postcode. This latter approach then used aerial photography as an overlay to allow quick and personalised views for attendees, allowing them to visualise the developments from any location such as their own properties or views of particular interest.

A busy couple of days saw around 150 members of the local communities attend the events, eager to understand more about the developments.  We also had the opportunity to engage with local authority planning officers and members of the community council. They were impressed with the level of information available to hand and could identify how the turbines would look from locations that matter to them.

All in all, a successful trip with feedback from “that’s a nifty bit of software” to “I can give better feedback now I know how it affects me”.

Lizzie Foot, Director at Hoolan said:

“The visualisations provided gave members of the public great quality and interactive viewpoints – the instant visuals from any given postcode were particularly well received.  Neither the show reel nor the instant visuals required internet connection and having David on hand to instantly respond to residents’ queries was helpful.  Would highly recommend and can see the benefit for future site visits in the field.”

You can read more about this on the Hoolan Energy website – http://www.hoolanenergy.com/

Please feel free to download the Hoolan_VAR_CaseStudy

If you are interested in how we can enhance your public engagement events – please get in touch on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com

VentusAR 4.5 Released

We are delighted to announce that this morning we released the latest version of VentusAR v4.5.

The release includes the ability to assess and visualise Building projects, drawing conductors between towers and wood poles in grid projects and transparency controls for the models and wirelines.

Buildings

We are particularly excited about being able to visualise buildings within our new domain. There are three type of building models available in VentusAR that can be added to a project: cuboid, pitched roof and default model. Each of the building types can be parameterised with the length, width and height in the portal and the model will be the building drawn accordingly.

A variety of different sized buildings shown in VentusAR Fly Through

Grid

Transmisson150-e1438175441149VentusAR 4.5 now has the ability to view conductors from tower to tower.

When the towers are set up in the portal, the conductors will automatically be added and viewable in Fly Through and My View.

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Conductors viewable in Fly Through

 Other new features

  • Relocation can now be done using postcodes. You can download the Gazetteer database, enter the postcode and use this to relocate.
  • Users can now adjust the transparency levels of both models and the terrain wirelines in all visualisation modes of VentusAR. This feature helps to align the camera feed to the terrain when everything has become congested.
  • A status bar has been added underneath the map to show the current location and accuracy of the internal GPS. This helps us to understand where the iPad is and how good a GPS signal it has. The conditions to allow user to open My View (Camera) or wireline have been re-worked to make them a bit more useful.
  • New sliders have been added to allow the wireline and the model opacity to be controlled in the visualisation mode.

Further information on VentusAR 4.5 can be found in the release notes for iPad, Android and the Portal

If you have any queries regarding these new features, or you would like to chat further about how VentusAR can help you with your visualisations, please give us a call on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com 

Edinburgh’s new Garden District development – what will it look like?

In the news yesterday, Murray Estates have been granted planning permission to build 6000 houses and leisure facilities on greenbelt land just outside Edinburgh.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-36436284 

The image below represents an overview of the area the development is planned for.

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Image courtesy of Edinburgh’s Garden District Brochure

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Visualising Anaerobic Digestion Plants

As well as the usual renewables models we can help visualise – wind, solar etc.,  we have started looking at other types and shapes of models – including Anaerobic Digestion and storage plants.

The larger scale on-farm AD plants will of course have a impact on the landscape, and we can help design and visualise what they will look like to reduce visual impact. VentusAR can help aid visibility and assessment of AD plants, and we are working on adding colours and textures to create a more realistic visualisation.

The following images are an a example project and there are no planned projects in this area.

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Anaerobic Digestion plant in Fly Through mode

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