First T-pylons to be made in UK

A British firm is to build the main part of the UK’s new prototype T-shaped pylons.

National Grid has awarded structural steel manufacturer Mabey Bridge the contract to build the supporting towers for the first six T-pylons that are due to be trialled at a test facility in Nottinghamshire.

After two initial kinds of prototype were designed and built in Denmark and tested in Sweden, the Mabey Bridge contract is the first indication that British engineering will benefit from the project to introduce an alternative to the traditional lattice-style pylon that dates back to the 1920s.

If work is successful, British-made T-pylons – designed in an international competition in 2011 – could one day dot the landscape starting with the connection to the new Hinkley Point power station in Somerset.

‘Mabey Bridge helped construct the traditional lattice structures when Britain’s electricity grid was first connected during the last century, and this order confirms our world leading manufacturing processes to help meet the needs of 21st energy infrastructure,’ said Mark Coia, managing director of Mabey Bridge Energy & Marine, in a statement.

The T-pylons, which were designed by Copenhagen-based engineering design practice Bystrup, consist of a single pole and T shaped cross arms holding the wires in a diamond shape. This means the pylon can stand at a height of just 35 metres, 10 to 15 metres shorter than traditional lattice towers.

The six new pylons will be tested at National Grid’s training academy at Eakring, where National Grid will study the construction, installation and maintenance aspects of the T-pylon design.

‘The test line at Eakring will allow us to fully rehearse how we might construct and maintain the T-pylon when in use and this contract with Mabey Bridge marks the start of that journey,’ said David Wright, director of electricity transmission asset management for National Grid.

The company is also working with researchers from Manchester and Cardiff universities to understand the impact on the transmission system of the T-pylons, which could be used to connect new nuclear power stations and renewable installations.

The T-pylon has been offered for the proposed Hinkley Point connection between the site of the planned new nuclear station near Bridgwater and distribution to the rest of the South West from Avonmouth.