New 400,000 volt power line plan for Somerset

Western Daily Press, September 16, 2009

A new 400,000 volt power line could soon stretch 37 miles across Somerset to connect the new reactor at Hinkley Point nuclear power to the National Grid.

The idea is to connect 'Hinkley C' to the electricity substation called Seabank in Avonmouth, Bristol , 37 miles north of the nuclear station.

The pylons to carry the cables would be 46.5 metres high, a little shorter than those used to carry the existing 400,000 volt link which runs east from Hinkley Point across the Somerset Levels.

That link will stay, but the huge output, of 3,600MW proposed for Hinkley C, will require the extra link.

The entire scheme, which will include new substations and is likely to include substantial upgrading of existing equipment is likely to cost £2 million per mile of line, and a total of £600 million. The price will be borne by electricity-users nationwide.

The proposals are at an early stage, and the final route will depend on the results of consultation with statutory authorities, and public consultation, which begins next month.

But a study revealed yesterday, produced by independent consultants, suggests alternative "corridors". One option is to take over and rebuild the existing 132,000-volt line which also connects with Seabank. Another is to build a new line parallel to the 132,000-volt link, and the third is to provide a line a little further away.

French-owned EDF Energy is bidding to provide two 1,800 MW European Pressurised Water reactors at Hinkley in response to the Government's need to increase energy resources as existing power stations close over the next 10 years. To meet the electricity demand over the same period more than 20GW of new generation- one third of the current national requirement - will be needed. Hinkley would be the largest single generator.

Peter Bryant, National Grid project manager for the Hinkley-Seabank scheme said yesterday: "It's a lot of power. The National Grid has an obligation to provide the most efficient, co-ordinated and economic. We look at whether we can do it with our existing system, and we will be upgrading the existing line, but that still isn't enough to get all the power out.

"The plan is to go out to consultation with the general public from October 1 to January 4. There are no proposals for the towers or alignment at this stage.

"We prepare that later, along with a detailed environmental impact study, hopefully make a submission in summer of 2011, and hopefully get a decision in summer of 2012. Then between then and 2016 we need to do the work."

The new Infrastructure Planning Commission will rule on the scheme, following input from local authorities and the public.

The costs of putting the line underground would be 12 to 17 times more expensive, and bring other problems, sterilising land the width of a motorway, and bringing problems in heat dispersal and access.

The new line would also be able to cope with extra input from a major offshore Cornish wind turbine proposal, and from the smaller lagoon proposals for tidal energy from the Severn estuary/Bristol Channel.

Jim Duffy, of anti-nuclear group Stop Hinkley, said yesterday the scheme would discourage the development of single turbines and he questioned EDF's ability to fund the development. As well as opposing nuclear power on principle because of potential dangers and the legacy of waste left for future generations Stop Hinkley argues that smaller-scale energy production is more sustainable. "There is a huge waste in sending electricity out of the region," said Mr Duffy.




Page Updated 20-Sep-2009

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National Grid's plans for pylons

The National Grid has announced plans for a new 37-mile 400,000 volt overhead pylon line connecting Hinkley Point in Somerset to a substation in Avonmouth.

The company has been asked to connect a 3,600MW nuclear power station to be built close to the existing generating plant at Hinkley Point.

The new power station will be one of the largest single generators in the UK 's high voltage system.

A spokesman said the overhead pylons were the most economical option.

"Depending on the final route, the overhead line would be approximately 37 miles long and would be constructed in 2016 at a cost of approximately £2m per mile," he said.

National Grid major project manager David Mercer added: "Electricity is an essential part of our lives and this line will play a key role in helping to meet the demand for power.

"With a number of major power stations due to close down over the next decade and electricity demand rising, the country needs 20 gigawatts of new generation by 2020. However these new power stations will need new transmission infrastructure to connect them securely."

Mr Mercer added that a period of public consultation on the proposals would take place from the beginning of October.