Battersea milestone achieved

A major milestone has been reached on a £42M project to bring electricity supplies to the heart of the Battersea Power Station development in London. Electricity TBM, ‘Maggie’, has recently completed the 11-week construction of a 320m long spur tunnel to carry essential electricity supplies to the £9bn, 42-acre development taking shape on the banks of the River Thames.

Client, UK Power Networks is building the new infrastructure with their Alliance Delivery Partners Clancy Docwra and Amec Foster Wheeler, Alliance contractors designers COWI UK Ltd, and tunnelling experts Joseph Gallagher.

The TBM has now returned to surface to make way for a junction chamber to be built. This will link the new tunnel to the wider, existing electricity tunnel network and electricity substations across other parts of London.

Work to power the Battersea Power Station development has been jointly funded by the UK Power Networks and the developer.

Gary Edwards, Technical Director at Battersea Power Station Development Company, said: “The new substation that is currently being built by UK Power Networks will ensure a reliable and efficient electricity source is provided to all of Battersea Power Station’s commercial tenants and residents once they have moved in. UK Power Networks and their delivery partners are doing a great job and we are looking forward to seeing the Power Station light up once again when it opens to the public in 2020.”

Nirmal Kotecha, Director of Capital Programme and procurement at UK Power Networks, said: “We are immensely proud of the role we are playing in delivering the electricity infrastructure needed to rejuvenate a landmark building and the surrounding area of former industrial land.

“This project will deliver essential new electricity supplies that will breathe new life into a once-derelict part of London. We will be providing reliable electricity supplies for a mini town of new homes, offices, hotels and restaurants, with the Power Station at its heart.”

A new electricity substation is being built to provide power to Battersea Power Station. This will house two ‘transformers’ which convert the power from 132,000-volts to 11,000-volts for distribution across the new neighbourhood.

New equipment at the substation will be connected to the development and the wider electricity network by two 132,000-volt electricity circuits running through the tunnel, with space for a third as capacity grows. It took miners 11 weeks to build the tunnel through London clay, some 20-metres below ground. A temporary railway took spoil back to the surface where it was used for land reclamation, rather than sent to landfill.

The tunnel will be equipped with brackets and new electricity cables while work gets underway on the electricity substation at ground level. The new equipment is due to go live by the end of 2018.

Battersea Power Station stopped generating electricity in 1983 and the honour of restoring power supplies to the development sprouting up around London’s famous chimneys is not lost on the electrical engineers working behind the scenes on the electrical engineering project.

James Belcher, Senior Project Manager at UK Power Networks, said: “It is a privilege to build the electricity network that will power the former station and surrounding development. We are proud to play a role in a project that will enable part of our industrial heritage to take pride of place in the capital.”

The TBM was named by local engineering students at the Oasis Academy in Lambeth after the prominent English space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Battersea tunnel fact file:

  • Maggie was manufactured by The Tunnel Engineering Services, Oldham
  • The machine weighs 50 tonnes and burrows at about 16-metres per day
  • It arrived in Battersea in January in sections and was assembled underground
  • Eight miners worked shifts underground with an engineer and colleagues at the surface
  • The tunnel shaft is seven metres wide and 22-metres deep
  • 300 concrete rings line the interior of the tunnel
  • The tunnel will carry two 132,000-volt electricity circuits

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