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New generation of pylons to deliver green energy across the country Iv-Consult

New generation of pylons to deliver green energy across the country

The production of green solar and wind energy at sea and on land is gaining momentum. As a result, the Netherlands is increasingly focusing on using sustainable energy sources. It has to because the world agreed at the climate summit in Paris that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by at least 95% by 2050. However, this growing demand brings new challenges because how will all this green energy be brought into our homes and businesses?

High-voltage connection Borssele-Tilburg
The electricity grid is currently quite congested, which is why network operator TenneT is working on a new high-voltage connection between Borssele and Tilburg. TenneT has commissioned Iv-Consult to provide the implementation design of eighteen types of high-voltage pylons between Rilland and Tilburg. This is a first for both TenneT and Iv-Consult, as the implementation design was outsourced to the contractor in previous projects. However, TenneT has now decided to conduct this phase of the project itself before awarding the contract. Iv-Consult is responsible for the detailed design of the pylons.

This new generation of pylons will be used for the planned 380 kV (380,000 volts) high-voltage line between Borssele and Rilland. For the first part of the high-voltage line, steel tubular pylons of the Wintrack type have been applied. TenneT chose to use lattice pylons in consultation with the local community for the second part. Due to strict requirements concerning the electromagnetic field, existing lattice pylon designs could not be used, and thus a new generation of pylons had to be designed.

A single lattice pylon consists of hundreds of components and thousands of bolts that have to be assembled into a whole.

Never before has Iv-Consult conducted such an assignment for TenneT. The project is extensive: a single lattice pylon consists of hundreds of components and thousands of bolts that have to be assembled into a whole. The complexity is even greater with multiple types of pylons, whereby some elements are repeated in the various types. A lot of engineering work, calculations, and drawings are required to produce a final implementation design and workshop drawings. The engineering and calculations are taking place in Papendrecht, and the workshop drawings at Iv-Consult in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). 

Many factors
Casper van der Pol, Project Manager at Iv-Consult, reflects on the project: “The planning was quite tight, but we met all the deadlines. I’m very proud of that.” As the project manager, Casper was responsible for meeting deadlines and providing technical support. “It’s a nice role. And the project sounds quite straightforward, but in reality, it is extraordinarily complex. TenneT considers safety an important factor in every facet, not only in strength but also in the use and implementation. Safe climbing routes and platforms are obvious, but so are the avoidance of sharp edges, the safe lifting and mounting of components, and other such aspects. TenneT also expects a high level of safety awareness from the people it works with, and requests all involved to participate in the Safety Culture Ladder with the attainment of Level 3 certification. We are currently working on this process.”

Performing the implementation design in-house has led to a shift in implementation risks.

Due to the radical nature of the project, the TenneT team has many other aspects to consider, besides technical support, during the first phases of implementation: some of the pylons along the Rilland-Tilburg line are new, and could also be placed where previously there were no pylons. Even now, it may be necessary to change the course slightly, which would require further consultation with stakeholders and may result in design changes.

Communication is crucial
Casper: “What is exceptionally good is that TenneT is always open to dialogue with us and those in the surrounding environment. We will be asked to examine the project critically, technically and in terms of planning. Preparing a realistic and logical schedule is also part of it. Of course, it helps that we have already demonstrated for a year that we can do what we propose. As a result, this part went very well.”

TenneT is also satisfied with the cooperation and work of Iv-Consult. “Performing the implementation design in-house has led to a shift in implementation risks to the client, which normally lies with the contractor. It requires specific knowledge and expertise to cover all risks”, says Edmon Gharh Beklo, Chief Engineer at TenneT.

“We are very satisfied with how Iv-Consult approached the project and delivered the products systematically. Clear communication was of great value in quickly resolving adjustments and other design changes. Thanks to Iv-Consult’s expertise, TenneT has every confidence that the end product in the form of 3D models, drawings and thousands of workshop drawings will contribute to the rapid production of the required pylons.”

It begins and ends with coordination
A considerable amount of coordination is required when designing new electricity pylons. Rick van Andel coordinates the drawing work of Iv-Consult, from checking models to switching between Papendrecht and Kuala Lumpur. Rick finds it very dynamic. “The transfer of information is crucial. For example, suppose the client changes something; this needs to be passed on to our colleagues in Malaysia because the drawings will have to be adjusted. Whether it concerns adding a new panel to a design or changing the thickness, it has to be implemented throughout the chain. Because at the end of the day, critical work is being undertaken in Malaysia: these drawings will soon be used to manufacture and construct.”

Working on lattice pylons is a new adventure for Iv-Consult. Steel is steel, so for that matter, it is right up the engineering company’s street. Rick: “Eighty percent is steel, the other twenty percent is very specific to pylons.”

It’s a big project, but if you think within the broader context of TenneT, it’s much bigger.

Regarding engineering, Iv-Consult is responsible for the implementation design based on a main design previously prepared by DNV in Arnhem, formerly KEMA. Colleague Jeroen Alblas, Lead Engineer within the TenneT project, adds: “Pylons are complicated steel structures because they are very detailed at certain points. For example, at the connections. Because we work in such fine detail, keeping a constant overview and eye on the bigger picture is crucial. Especially in the first few months, we really took the time to get it right from the beginning. The start-up work was fundamental to the progress of the project. Moving too quickly in the beginning would certainly have come back to haunt us with subsequent pylons. But, in my opinion, we got that right.”

The bigger picture
Iv-Consult is currently working on the implementation designs for three other types of high-voltage pylons for TenneT, which in principle did not fall within the scope of the contract. “This is a huge compliment”, says Casper. “It was new for us, but we kept calm and didn’t panic. We weren’t concerned about the shape of the steel. What was interesting for us was the way of working. It’s a big project, but if you think within the broader context of TenneT, it’s much bigger. Therefore, it’s incredibly dynamic.”

Casper reflects fondly on the time that has passed. “Of all the projects I’ve implemented in eighteen years, this was probably the most fun. It was a lot of work, and the pressure was on, but the communication with TenneT and the open culture made it very pleasant. It’ll never be too much for me if it’s always like this.”