National Grid has outlined plans to connect new sources of electricity generation in Cumbria to the national power network by creating a “North West Coast Power Ring”.
The company has been asked to provide a connection into the electricity transmission system for the proposed new 3.2 GW nuclear power station, Moorside, near Sellafield in West Cumbria and a number of wind farms in the Irish Sea.
This project is an important step towards meeting National Grid’s challenge to modernise and extend the country’s existing energy infrastructure.
Earlier this year, National Grid consulted with local authorities in Lancashire and Cumbria, key groups and individuals on six broad strategic options identified as offering solutions for making these vital connections.
The company has listened to the views expressed and has decided to take forward two options – both of which would see the creation of a power ring that would connect coastal areas into the existing grid system and also create the opportunity for future energy generators to link in.
National Grid’s next step will be to assess these two options to identify potential corridors where new infrastructure could be routed.
Work will now focus on looking for onshore routes to the north of Moorside where there is the potential to follow the path of existing low voltage power lines which are operated by Electricity North West.
To the south of Moorside, National Grid will also consider routes where there is potential to follow the path of existing power lines in addition to studying possible routes offshore through the Irish Sea and across Morecambe Bay.
The project to develop the connections needed is in the very early stages and is being progressed at a time of major change for the power generation industry as the focus shifts to developing sources of low carbon energy.
The scope of the National Grid project has already been changed to reflect the requirements of generators and the company will only build what is essential to connect new sources of power.
Peter Fendley, senior project manager at National Grid, said: “We’ve been working with local authorities and other organisations from across Cumbria and Lancashire on this project for nearly three years now.
“They’ve shared their wealth of experience and insight with us and we’ve been guided by them in shaping our strategic options and in selecting the ones we’ll now be taking forward to develop further.
“The next step is for us to identify potential route corridors for new infrastructure both on land and offshore.
Once this work has been completed we will start to consult intensively with communities. Consultation events are expected to take place from late spring 2013 and will be well publicised in advance.”
At consultation events people will be able to meet with members of the North West Coast Connections project team to discuss the project in more detail and provide their views and comments on route corridors being put forward.
Mr Fendley added: “National Grid is at the heart of delivering Britain’s energy system. Our company is committed to consulting widely and we very much want to take forward an application that addresses local concerns whilst fulfilling the need to provide power to homes, schools, hospitals and businesses in Cumbria and beyond.”
National Grid’s Strategic Options Report on the project is available to view on the project website, along with a Consultation Feedback Report explaining how feedback and issues raised during the consultation have been used to inform the decision on which strategic options to take forward for further development.
People are invited to register their details on the project website now to ensure they get regular updates on the North West Coast Connections project: www.northwestcoastconnections.com.
Weblink: The stages of the consultation
Weblink: Project timescale