T time! – UK introduces new cost-saving electricity pylons to the world

By - World Infrastructure Journal

T time! – UK introduces new cost-saving electricity pylons to the world

The world’s first T-pylons, currently being erected in Somerset by National Grid, have a smaller footprint and use less steel. They also serve as a reminder that attention to detail is key to reducing emissions.

This week saw the erection of the world’s first T-pylons in Somerset, as part of the National Grid’s £900 million Hinkley Connection project. Connecting the low carbon electricity generated by Hinkley Point C Nuclear power station to over 6 million homes and businesses, the new T-pylons double down on the carbon savings by requiring less steel and having a smaller footprint than typical pylons.

The pylons, which are in a T-shape and have a single pole, hold wires in a diamond ‘earring’ shape and are 35 metres high, a third shorter than National Grid’s traditional lattice pylons. Through simply using less steel, but still delivering the same results, these new pylons are an example of the benefit of a holistic approach to decarbonisation, and the importance of supporting innovation.

The pylon’s design was chosen from over 250 other designs entered into a competition organised in 2011 by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the UK government. Chosen for its ability to save on emissions, while also reducing the impact of the infrastructure on the local environment, the pylon will eventually replace 249 electricity pylons between Bridgwater and Avonmouth.

As Chris Bennett (Acting President at National Grid Electricity Transmission) said, “This new design forms part of our significant investment in the network in England and Wales, adding capacity onto the grid to deliver increasing amounts of low carbon energy and support the UK’s drive towards its net-zero target. ”

This move is also a prime example of the benefits of a focus on finding simple solutions to efficiency – and other sectors are taking notice. Speaking at a recent PPP webinar, Helen McAllister (Network Strategy and Planning Director at Network Rail) pointed out that innovations like the T-pylons may not seem like much but are essential to the UK’s drive towards net zero, as when “you can reduce the size of the structures that you need to use to hang your wires, you're using less steel and that is more carbon friendly. ”

The current plan is to continue with the installation of the first 48 of the 116 pylons, with the construction of the remaining 68 scheduled for 2022. Hopefully, more similar projects will follow, and National Grid, as well as other major players in infrastructure, will continue “looking for innovative new ways to mitigate the impact of our infrastructure on the natural environment. ”

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