UK's National Grid updates plans for new nuclear plants

25 October 2016

The UK's National Grid has unveiled proposals for a £2.8 billion ($3.4 billion) project to connect NuGeneration's planned nuclear power plant at Moorside in West Cumbria into the country's electricity network, ahead of ten weeks of consultation between 28 October 2016 and 6 January 2017.

NuGen - a joint venture between Toshiba and Engie - plans to build a nuclear power plant of up to 3.8 GWe gross capacity at Moorside. NuGen says it combines the strengths of its two globally-recognised parent companies, with proven operating and engineering experience, and AP1000 nuclear reactor technology provided by Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba.

According to a statement issued yesterday, National Grid said the proposal is to put lines underground and under Morecambe Bay to protect the Lake District National Park and that more than a quarter of the connection could be underground. It would aim to "reduce the impact of the project on the landscape of Cumbria while balancing this with the need to keep energy bills affordable".

Some 23.4km (14.5 miles) of new line is to be laid underground through the entire western section of the Lake District National Park. This could see the existing lines there being removed completely, leaving this part of the park free of pylons for the first time in 50 years, the National Grid said.

This is in addition to: putting cables through a tunnel measuring about 22km under Morecambe Bay to avoid the south part of the national park at a cost of £1.2 billion; removing many of the existing pylons owned by Electricity North West (ENW) and replacing them with fewer, taller pylons of its own operating at a greater voltage; and replacing the low voltage line in the area around the Hadrian's Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site with underground cables.

National Grid has posted nearly 90,000 newsletters to homes and businesses along to route to explain how people can take part in the consultation process.

Significant engagement

Robert Powell, National Grid project manager said: "We've undertaken significant engagement during the six years we have spent developing our plans. We've listened very carefully to groups like the Lake District National Park Authority, the National Trust and members of the public on the importance of the national park and other treasured landscapes in Cumbria and Lancashire.

"Balancing the impact of the project on the landscape against its cost has involved making some difficult choices as the cost of building a connection is ultimately passed on to energy bill payers. We believe the proposal we are going to consult on over the coming months strikes the best balance. Our consultation will now give people a chance to have their say on the fine detail of the project."

National Grid said it is confident that along the 164km route of the proposed connection, it can remove many of the existing pylons owned by ENW, which carry low voltage power lines around the west coast of Cumbria. It will replace them with fewer, taller pylons carrying lines of its own operating at a higher voltage.

Engineers are already developing proposals, it said, for a £1.2 billion tunnel under Morecambe Bay, which would avoid putting new lines through the southern part of the Lake District. It is already estimated that around £1.9 billion will be spent putting sections of the connection out of sight - more than half of the cost of the total project.

National Grid published details of the route the new connection could take in June last year, since when it has been talking to local authorities and key bodies about the technology which could be used to make the connection and to map out in detail exactly where in the landscape it could sit. The company has also made contact with landowners and land occupiers along the route and is currently carrying out surveys in some locations to gather vital information, it said.

"The company is proposing to build a complete connection to link the proposed new power station into the electricity transmission network. This will see the connection built along a route going onshore north from Moorside to an existing substation at Harker near Carlisle in addition to a route going onshore south from Moorside across the Furness peninsula and through a tunnel under Morecambe Bay which would come up at an existing substation near Heysham in Lancashire," National Grid said.

"This would effectively create a 'power ring' around the NW coast which would provide Moorside with a secure connection into the grid and also allow other new generators to link into the electricity network in Cumbria in the future."

It aims to submit an application for consent to build the new connection to the Planning Inspectorate in 2017. A decision will then be made by the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. If consent is granted, construction work is expected to start in 2019. National Grid is currently contracted to provide NuGen with the first phase of the connection into its transmission network by 2024.


Earlier this year, the UK government approved a plan for National Grid to remove an existing line of pylons and build a new high voltage electricity connection made up of underground cables and new pylons between Bridgwater and Avonmouth to support EDF Energy's project to build Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. Stewart Larque, head of regional media at National Grid, told World Nuclear News today, "Over the coming months we’ll draw up a construction program that meets EDF's timescales before communicating what it means for people who will be affected by the work."

National Grid's head of major infrastructure development, Sue Adam, told Marketforce's Nuclear New Build Forum on 20 April of plans to accommodate Hinkley Point C, which is under construction in Somerset. EDF Energy was granted a Development Consent Order for the plant early this year.

Adam said the Hinkley Connection project will involve a National Grid 400kV network, consisting of: a 56km connection (49km overhead and 8km underground); two substations and a sealing end compound; upgrading and re-configuring Western Power Distribution's 132kV network; removing 67km of overhead line; laying 10km underground; and making modifications to the existing network. The project will introduce the new T-pylon design to the grid, she said, adding that HPC will require 116 T-pylons.

For the other two new build plans, she said proposals are being developed for formal consultation for the North West Coast Connections project, connecting Moorside - including a 142km connection with a 22km tunnel under Morecambe Bay - and the North Wales Connection project, connecting Wylfa Newydd - including a 40km connection beneath Menai Strait.

Wylfa Newydd

Horizon - which was established in 2009 and acquired by Hitachi in November 2012 - aims to provide at least 5.4 GWe of new capacity across two sites by deploying Hitachi-GE UK ABWRs. It expects the first unit at Wylfa Newydd to be operating in the first half of the 2020s.

On 5 October, National Grid launched its final route-wide consultation on proposals for a second connection for Wylfa Newydd. Running until 16 December, the consultation will give communities on Anglesey and in Gwynedd the opportunity to see in detail what the new connection could look like, talk to the National Grid team and provide their feedback.

Gareth Williams, senior project manager, said: "The tunnel under the Strait will be one of the most significant civil engineering projects in Wales in recent years and will involve some of the best engineers in the world. The tunnel will be around 4km long and mean our overhead equipment is beyond the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and away from the coast. We've kept the route for the new overhead line close to the existing line. This means we take a direct route, keep away from larger communities and avoid putting pylons in new areas."

Williams added: "People have told us about the importance of the landscape and views, tourism, cultural heritage and the wider environment. In developing our proposals, we've tried to keep effects on these as low as we can, while also meeting our duties to the environment and providing a connection that offers value for bill payers. We think our proposals are the best option based on all the information we have but they can still change. We hope as many people as possible will take this opportunity to continue to influence our plans."

On 19 October, National Grid announced the timetable for a three-week program of community events across Anglesey and Gwynedd for the public learn about its proposals to connect Wylfa Newydd. The events will include access to virtual reality head-sets and a 3D computer model that will allow users to search by postcode and see specific sections of the route from their address.

Williams said: "This is likely to be our last consultation on the whole connection so it's really important people take part if they want to have their say" before National Grid submits its planning application to the government next year.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News