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IET-endorsed report released today into overground and underground transmission lines

IET puts its name to report released today studying benefits of overground and underground cabling.

An IET-endorsed report advising the benefits of overhead and underground power transmission lines will be released this morning at the Science Media Centre in London. The impartial report has been produced by Parsons Brinckerhoff in partnership with Cable Consulting International and has been independently overseen by the IET.

The report is intended to provide clarity to those involved in the decision making process of choosing whether underground or overground transmission lines will be used to distribute future power to the UK. The lines will support the UK’s current network in channelling electricity from new generating sources including renewable systems and new nuclear facilities.

The report presents the cost specifics for each transmission technology, comparing overground cables, underground direct-buried cables, underground tunnelled cables, subsea cables, HVDC converter stations, gas insulated lines and tunnel systems themselves. Factors for consideration for each technology are highlighted in the report, including lifetime costs, sensitivity factors, fixed and variable build costs, operating costs and distance costs. Accurate cost analysis has been derived from global data supplied by installers and manufacturers.

The report cites overhead lines as the cheapest comparable technology, with underground and subsea cables presented as the most expensive options. Hi Capacity AC overhead lines would cost £301.5million per 75km, in comparison to its £2112.4million underground-tunnelled equivalent. However, the report makes clear that cost must not be the overriding factor: environment, security, space and aesthetics are all crucial factors that must be considered as planners begin to extend the UK’s future transmission network.

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