The project is part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s initiative to support planned housing growth of around 3,000 homes to the east of the town. A traditional ‘breaking the ground’ event marked work starting on National Grid’s 400kV substation and UK Power Networks’ new grid substation, that will increase power capacity in Biggleswade and help the community move towards a low carbon economy.
UK Power Networks and National Grid looked into various technology solutions to deliver the extra 80 megawatts of power required. This detailed assessment included reinforcing existing infrastructure and providing power from other existing substations. These options were discounted because they either failed to meet the power requirements or presented significant and unnecessary engineering and cost difficulties.
The National Grid compound for a 400kV substation will measure approximately 150 metres by 130 metres and have a maximum height of 15 metres to connect to the existing overhead power lines. The UK Power Networks compound (Biggleswade East Grid), will have a footprint of approximately 180 metres by 100 metres and a maximum height of nine metres.
UK Power Networks Project Manager Geraint Hancock said: “The start of construction on site is a significant milestone to achieve and is the culmination of 18 months’ of design, surveys, studies and extensive consultation. We have designed a scheme with National Grid that will make the electricity network for Biggleswade fit for the future. Construction works will take around three years to complete with energisation planned in the winter of 2024.”
Mark Beasley Project Director for National Grid said: “We invest around £1bn each year in the electricity transmission system, delivering the fastest decarbonising electricity network in the world with world-class reliability. We are delighted to be a part of this project, connecting and increasing power capacity to Biggleswade, supporting investment in the town and enabling a secure supply of electricity to the area for the decades to come.”
Councillor Richard Wenham, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, commented: “This new electricity substation will meet the growing energy needs of the local community and provide the essential power to support new homes, business opportunities, and jobs.
“As we look to do our bit for the planet, and as more people shift to electric vehicles or clean energy to heat their homes, the new substation will help support the important sustainability agenda.”
The Council secured £70m of government funding via Homes England Housing Infrastructure Fund for a number of schemes, including this power project.
Header image shows in front from left to right: Mark Adolphus (UK Power Networks), Marcel Coiffait (Central Beds Council chief executive), Mark Beasley (National Grid), Cllr Richard Wenham (Central Beds Council leader)