Industry Information

Industry Information

UK Competition Launched to Rethink Pylon Design

A competition has been launched in Britain to ‘beautify’ electricity pylons, often seen as an eyesore among the country’s landscapes.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change, along with the National Grid and the Royal Institute of British Architects will call for established and up-and-coming architects and engineers to rethink the design of the pylons, which have stood tall across the UK since 1927.

The news comes as the UK Government plans to halve carbon emissions by 2025, meaning much more infrastructure will be needed to transmit electricity from renewable energy generation located in remote areas to homes and businesses.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said, “Done right, energy infrastructure can enhance the landscape. Our challenge is to make sure that this energy revolution is more sustainable and more beautiful than previous revolutions.”

“It’s no longer the case that power stations are going to be close to where the demand for electricity is and therefore there is going to be a need for long transmission networks and that means, inevitably, we are going to have more pylons.”

One solution is to bury power lines underground but Huhne insisted that this method would cost 15 to 20 times more than installing a pylon overground.

There are more than 88,000 pylons in the UK, including 22,000 on National Grid’s main transmission network in England and Wales. These stand some 50m high, and weigh around 30t to withstand weather-beaten parts of Britain.

The new design will need to be just as strong, and like the traditional pylon, carry two 400,000V electricity circuits, said National Grid executive director Nick Winser, “The pylon is a fantastic construction, it is strong and easy to maintain. But, in recent years, we have seen the development of new technologies and materials, which means there is now the opportunity to design an entirely novel pylon.”

A prize fund of £10,000 will be shared amongst the winning candidates.

and National Grid will give consideration to developing the winning design for use in future projects.

The competition closes on 12 July, with shortlisted candidates notified at the end of month. The shortlist will then have the opportunity to work with National Grid before submitting their final designs at the beginning of September.