The T Pylon, designed by Bystrup, is being considered for use in connecting the Hinkley Point reactor to the National Grid

Low-profile pylon considered for Hinkley Point scheme

A new design of electricity pylon engineered to have less impact on landscapes could be used in major new power projects.

The T-pylon won a National Grid competition for a new design in 2011 and is now being considered for use in the scheme to connect up the planned nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point, Somerset, and other new power generation in the South West.

The 35-metre high pylon, which is a third lower than steel lattice pylons which were introduced in the 1920s, could also be an alternative to the traditional structure in other major new projects to connect new low-carbon and renewable electricity generation to the grid, National Grid said.

Nick Winser, National Grid executive director, said: "The competition was held to find a design which would meet all our safety and reliability criteria and belong to the 21st century.

"The steel lattice pylon has served us well over the years and will continue to be part of the landscape but we're looking forward to see people's reaction to the new T-pylon design."

The new pylon, designed by the Danish architects and engineers Bystrup, has simple layout that gives it a T-shaped cross arm with the electricity wires and the insulators which hold them in place arranged in a diamond "earring" shape.

It is engineered to carry the highest voltage 400,000 volt lines, which are needed for Hinkley Point, but the design means it can be around 10 to 15 metres shorter than the three-armed steel lattice tower while meeting the same safety clearance.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "One of the key objectives of the pylon design competition was to see if innovations in design and technology could improve an 85-year-old structure, and one that has divided popular opinion since its inauguration in the 1920s.

"We face a significant challenge over the coming years connecting new electricity plants to our homes and businesses. Now communities can be offered a new choice and a radical departure from the traditional lattice.

"A smaller pylon, one third shorter than its predecessor, with different finishes allowing it to blend into the landscape; T-pylon is a striking and elegant design. I'm looking forward to seeing T-pylon put into service; a graceful, refined structure fit for the needs of our low carbon, 21st century."

Since the competition engineers from National Grid and Bystrup have led a two year project to take the design through to construction of full-sized prototypes, which were built in Denmark and have undergone mechanical strength and load testing.

But despite being the stand-out winner out of 250 entries in the pylon design competition it is not a replacement for existing pylons, and there may be places where the traditional design is still the best choice, the National Grid said.

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