An insulator supplier is playing a key role in a pioneering National Grid project which aims to connect low carbon energy to hundreds of UK homes and businesses.
Allied Insulators, based in Stoke-on-Trent, has spent more than five years working on the Hinkley Connection Project – a new high-voltage electricity connection between Bridgwater and Seabank near Avonmouth.
The scheme aims to connect new sources of low carbon energy to homes and businesses, including the new Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.
The connection will be 57km long and will consist of 48.5km of overhead line and 8.5km of overhead cable through the Mendip Hills area. It will also feature the world’s first operational T-pylons.
And Allied Insulators – which specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of insulators – has been awarded the insulator development and supply contract in the T-pylon trial.
Managing director Jon Knapper said: “We are insulator design experts and are a relatively small company which means we are dynamic and flexible.
“We understood that National Grid was developing a new, novel and cutting-edge power line and, since electrification, we have had a very close relationship with the company – so we went away and spent two or three years in 2014 working to come up with a solution.”
The company’s design was approved by the National Grid and main contractor Balfour Beatty and, following a competitive tender process and extensive testing, Allied Insulators secured the contract.
As part of the £8 million Hinkley Connection Project, Allied Insulators will have to manufacture and assemble 200 insulated T-pylons ready for installation from August.
It is working in partnership with its manufacturer in Shanghai to deliver the contract.
The 20-strong firm has even had to take on an additional unit, also in Stoke-on-Trent, to accommodate the huge structures.
Jon, who took over the business with fellow director Oliver Scopes following a management buy-out in 2011, said: “We were competing with some really big organisations on this so we are really pleased to be involved, this has been one of our most successful years to date.
“This project required a very high degree of engineering and technical knowledge and capability.
“It has been a really good exercise for us. At times it has been really exhausting but we have really been able to push the boundaries of innovation.
“This project is a first-of-a-kind for the UK and hopefully there will be many more to come.”
Jon added: “In the future, the focus will be all about finding ways to make infrastructure blend in with the environment or even enhance the environment and we believe that this is exactly what the T-pylon design does.”