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Underground cables would avoid 'scarring' Somerset landscape with pylons

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

An artist's impression of pylons over the Somerset countryside

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A Somerset MP believes she could have found the answer to the controversy surrounding unwanted power lines and electricity pylons proposed across the Somerset Levels – in the middle of Ireland.

Tessa Munt said she met with the people behind a project to build onshore wind turbines in the centre of the Republic, and found that they are connecting them to the National Grid in Britain using an undersea cable.

The Lib Dem MP has long lobbied National Grid to send the cables from the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point either underground or under the sea to join the main grid at Avonmouth – rather than ‘scar’ the landscape of the Levels with pylons and cables.

“The Irish project proposes using high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables, which reduces the amount of electricity lost and, crucially for Somerset, are more easily buried,” she said.

Ms Munt said she was enthusiastic about following up her initial meeting with the Greenwire representatives as she has worked consistently to find alternatives to National Grid’s current proposals, which will see 50km of overhead pylons ‘scarring the Somerset countryside, ruining the lives of local people, tourism and businesses’.

Ms Munt said: “I am committed to finding alternatives to the universally unpopular National Grid plan to erect pylons across the Somerset countryside. The Greenwire project clearly shows it is possible to use both underground and underwater methods to revamp our crumbling energy infrastructure.”

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  • johndavies  |  October 29 2012, 5:50PM

    Undersea cables are quite expensive and difficult to repair, max capacity per cable pair 1.0 GW (NorNed is 700 MW) For a 40 km link laid under the Channel, the following are approximate primary equipment costs for a 2000 MW 500 kV bipolar conventional HVDC link (exclude way-leaving, on-shore reinforcement works, consenting, engineering, insurance, etc.) • Converter stations ~£110M ( HVDC requires AC-DC converter stations at each end.) • Subsea cable + installation ~£1M/km So for an 2 GW capacity in 2 links, little is left over from £600M for the installed works. Add another £200–300M for the other works depending on additional onshore works required

  • Ted_F  |  October 22 2012, 7:43PM

    Undersea HVDC systems would be more efficient and maybe twice the price. National Grid which still depends on outdated 1980s technology and has nothing to offer in the High Voltage D.C. sector, make up these figures to befuddle decision makers. Get Siemens in to do a proper job.

  • johndavies  |  October 21 2012, 8:53AM

    "Ms Munt said: "I am committed to finding alternatives to the universally unpopular National Grid plan to erect pylons across the Somerset countryside." Is she committed to finding the cash to pay for it ??? The cost to place new transmission lines underground is about 8 to 10 times the cost to build overhead lines.