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Electricity connection opportunities for civil engineers. Viking Link Converter. Image Source: Siemens

A major investment programme by National Grid and other energy groups to update and expand the UK’s electricity connection capacity and other facilities in the sector is creating a significant source of new construction opportunities for civil engineering contractors.

Work on two huge projects in the sector is set to start in the opening months of this year. Before Christmas, National Grid signed a six-year contract worth around £400 million with a Hochtief-Murphy joint venture for the tunnelling and shaft work of the second phase of its London Power Tunnel Phase 2 project.

Work on the eight-year project, valued at £1 billion overall, is set to start in March and will involve the construction of a 32.5km tunnel to house electricity transmission cables running between Wimbledon and Crayford in the south east of the capital (Glenigan Project ID: 18044305).

Elsewhere, work on National Grid’s £1.1 billion Viking Link subsea cable interconnector linking Jutland in Denmark with a site near Boston in Lincolnshire, is set to start in February. Siemens and NKT Cables are among the contractors on the project which will run for 46 months (Glenigan Project ID: 12141174)

Meanwhile, construction work on a £81 million electric substation being built in Boston by National Grid to serve the Viking Link project, the UK Onshore Scheme, is also due to start this spring. NKT Cables is the contractor on the scheme, which is set to run for 3-4 years (Glenigan Project ID: 17321602).

Doubling in contract awards

The interconnector contracts were among recent major project awards which Glenigan Construction Data shows contributed to a more than doubling in the value of civil engineering contracts awarded in the fourth quarter – to a total of £4,940 million - compared to the period a year ago.

Other significant new construction projects linking the UK’s electricity distribution network to the Continent are also in the pipeline. NeuConnect Britain, a private firm, has submitted outline plans for a £40.2 million converter station at the Isle of Grain in Kent as part of an interconnector linking the German and British electricity networks (Glenigan Project ID: 19414719).

Longer term, National Grid also has plans for a 400kv transmission connection between Bramford substation in Suffolk, and Twinstead Tee in Essex. The project valued at £208 million has been deemed a nationally significant project and will connect various new power stations in the region although a timetable for construction has yet to be confirmed (Glenigan Project ID: 10524764).

Renewable energy

New facilities to accommodate the growing share of electricity coming from renewable energy are also creating construction opportunities. Detailed plans have been granted to Public Power Solutions for its £30 million Mannington Battery Storage Plant near Swindon, which will feed power into the national grid. Work on the scheme, which is at the pre-tender stage, is set to start in the spring and continue for 12 months.

Meanwhile if the huge Cleve Hill Solar Park in Kent is given the go-ahead by the government, it will also involve infrastructure and a substation to connect to the national grid. The £400 million scheme covers an area the size of 900 football pitches and has been deemed a nationally significant infrastructure project. Work could start this autumn and continue for two years (Glenigan Project ID: 17443990).