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Supporting Western Power Distribution’s 132kv Line Refurbishment, Upgradeable To 400kv

Winter NewsletterFaced with a limited window of opportunity and challenging specifications, Western Power Distribution (WPD) selected PACE Networks to support the retrofit of insulators and ancillary equipment on their LL route from Aberthaw power station to Upper Boat Grid 132kV substation.

For this project, working on National Grid infrastructure, WPD needed a responsive partner, with extensive technical experience and a range of type registered products available on short delivery times.

The nature of the retrofit meant that there was little flexibility in the size of equipment that could be used. When changes in dimensions were requested, Pace were able to adapt their solution, without delaying the project.

PACE worked with WPD to evaluate the use of polymeric insulators instead of porcelain or glass. Polymeric insulators were selected because they perform well, are one piece, lighter and more sustainable. The weight saving is significant – around 90%. The benefits of polymerics over traditional materials were compelling, including:

  • lower risk of cross arm failure due to reduced tower stress during refurbishment
  • dramatically improved safety for handling and transportation – known high risk areas
  • reduced requirement for access tracks and plant operations
  • improved environmental performance
  • cost savings of 15-25%, including capital and installation

Andrew Elliot, Director PACE Networks, comments “Polymerics are widely used around the world and are proven over more than 30 years’ operation; they present an important challenge to the traditional UK approach. PACE and partner Bonomi can advise on their application, having built up an in-depth knowledge of their installation and performance.”

For this project, the 132kV line needed to be upgradeable to 400kV. The insulators specified by PACE were approved for this range. Pace’s technical team were able to customise the arcing horn design, with an elongated arc providing the protection needed.

In total, 53 towers with Zebra twin conductors were retrofitted, over 18km, on time and to budget by WPD. PACE Networks provided around 130 tension sets, 100 suspension sets and 650 dampers.

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