Elia Innovation

The Context

Always on the lookout for new technologies, Elia studied augmented reality / virtual reality and the benefits that this new technology can offer us in carrying out our daily activities.

In 2017, our Innovation Hub launched a conception workshop, i.e. a trajectory focused on the research and development of new ideas. The objective was to find a specific case for which virtual reality could be an asset. This trajectory started with two days of observation on the terrain, followed by a workshop of 3 days.

At the end of these 3 days, 3 different projects resulted from this search for ideas and were presented to the representatives of the Asset department. The “Sarqa VR” project was selected as the winner of this session.

The project

Sarqa VR aims to gamify the preparation of on-site interventions without having to visit the substation.

Sarqa VR allows our colleagues on the terrain to virtually enter a high-voltage substation and to prepare their work there. This allows them to place the necessary demarcations for the realisation of each Work Order in a virtual manner and to identify the potential risks in connection with their intervention.

During this preparation, they can observe whether the safety zones are respected and to avoid interactions / conflicts with other planned or ongoing works. A “validator” mode is also provided so that they can have their preparation validated by a safety officer.

The principle could also be used to train new colleagues.

How does it work?

The high-voltage substations are modelled on existing plans and reflect every aspect of reality. Using a virtual reality headset, the person enters the selected substation. He or she navigates inside the substation using a remote control, which is pointed in the desired direction. A second remote control, which appears on screen in the form of a tablet, offers access to various options: defining the working zones by means of cones, chains etc.; placing elements such as service vehicles to see whether these do not enter the safety zones etc.

This virtual preparation has several advantages:

  • Specifying the preparation of the interventions
  • Digitizing the documentation regarding the preparation of the works

Anticipating problems and visualizing them within their context

Meet the team

Our Innovation teams, together with internal experts and field technicians, worked with an external partner who developed the virtual substations based on real plans drawn by our designer team. This transversal project is currently still in the test phase. If the results are convincing, this technology could be industrialized within Elia.


"The conception and creation workshop allowed us to rapidly identify a specific application for this technology. Thanks to this workshop, the functions were very quickly defined and 4 months later, we had a workable result. The user experience is astounding; you could really believe that you’re on site."

Johan Maricq, Innovation

"Visiting high voltage substations in virtual reality was a new and pleasantly surprising experience for me. Even though the project is only in its initial phase and there is still room for improvement, we cannot afford to miss this boat. It is sure to help us move forward in terms of safety and work preparations."

Nico Lambrechts, Substations technician