Wood has been used in construction for thousands of years. Its properties have been tested and found to be superior to other materials continuously from the earliest of times until today. More and more we see architects and engineers going back to this environmentally friendly, naturally superior material for all kinds of construction projects.
Treated Wooden Poles have been used for Electricity Transmission and Distribution from the earliest times until today. First world countries such as the USA, Australia, England, Norway and France still use wooden poles for electricity transmission today. These countries have each done tests on the suitability of wooden poles against other materials such as steel, concrete and composites and have concluded that wood is still the material of choice for electricity transmission.
On the African continent, Eskom (South Africa’s National Electricity Company) is by far the largest generation and distribution company in Africa with a total output capacity of 44MW. Eskom has used TTP produced wooden poles extensively from its inception in 1939 until today, a supply history of 77 years. TTP has always, and still does, supply Eskom with more treated wooden poles than any other manufacturer.
The benefits of wood:
- Wood is light. This makes transport easier in mountainous terrain and more cost effective when compared to concrete and steel.
- Wood is a naturally strong but flexible material. In high winds wood will bend slightly and then return to its original position. Under the same pressure steel will bend, form a fold line and never straighten. Concrete will crack, exposing the steel reinforcing which then rusts and the pole will collapse soon after. Composites are weak and brittle, they will not bend and will snap under equal pressure.
- Wood is eco friendly. All trees used in the production of poles at TTP are sustainably grown in commercial plantations. During the + – 10 years these trees take to grow they are producing oxygen and storing Carbon Dioxide in their fiber which does not then get released into the atmosphere. The production of concrete, composites and steel is harmful to the environment. For example, a steel pole uses 8 times more fossil fuel than a wooden pole uses in its production.
- Wood is cheap. Without taking into account the huge saving on transport, wooden poles are cheaper to produce than concrete, composites and steel.
- Wood lasts a long time*. If properly treated wooden poles can outlast concrete, composites and steel poles. Treated Timber Products treated poles in 1954 (see photograph below) that are still in service today (2016)! That is a life span of 62 years. These poles were sold to Telkom (South Africa’s National Telecommunications Company) and have recently been inspected and passed. The poles were then climbed and the copper wires have been replaced with Fiber optic lines.
- Wood is versatile. Wooden poles are far easier to adapt to different line configurations and line hardware fittings than concrete and steel. This is due to the ability to drill holes into wooden poles in any customer specified number and diameter before treatment.
- Wooden poles are rugged. Loading, offloading and handling wooden poles does not require special equipment that is often unable to access areas where lines need to go. Unloading and loading is fast and poles can be stored in piles, saving space in yards. The above is not true for concrete or steel poles.
Government enterprises still using concrete, composite or steel poles are not only paying far more for each pole but they are buying an inferior product as well. The sooner they move to wooden poles the better.
*It is important to note that a wooden pole will only have the desired longevity mentioned above if it has been produced correctly, to high internationally recognized specifications.
Click on the image below to view pdf. ( The image and pdf belong to the North American Wood Pole Council (NAWPC). This is a list of their reasons as to why wood is the material of choice for electricity distribution in the USA (there are over 130 million wooden poles in service in the USA) ).