Renewables

Freedom's POC-MAST set to transform UK connections market

5th October 2020
Lanna Cooper

An innovation by NG Bailey’s Freedom business is set to transform the way new connections to the high voltage electricity distribution network are delivered. The Point of Connection Mast - POC-MAST - offers a safer, faster and more affordable means of connecting to the local power distribution network for applications such as data centres, wind and solar farms.

Developed by Freedom’s in-house experts, it is set to shake up the connections market, in particular making it easier for renewable energy projects to get connected.

POC-MAST enables any developer that requires a connection into the electricity distribution network - for generation or load - to achieve an affordable and timely point of connection for their scheme. It can make the difference to whether or not a scheme is viable.

Martin Buckland, Managing Director of Freedom Professional Services, explained: “We’ve been providing connection services for many years and recognised that the increasingly diverse nature of power generation was creating a greater demand for quicker and more cost effective connections into the distribution networks.

“Traditional methods for connecting to an existing line usually require a new junction tower or extensive modifications to an existing tower. This involves taking the line out of service, and in some cases using a temporary circuit diversion. Such modifications cause disruption to the network for many weeks and can only be carried out at certain times of the year. It also means they cost more and can take a long time to complete. POC-MAST was borne out of a desire to make this more affordable and quicker.”

Matt Pryor, Technical Manager of Overhead Lines at Freedom, has been instrumental in the development of POC-MAST. “The first POC-MAST was developed for a renewable energy project where a traditional connection wasn’t possible, so we created POC-MAST as a bespoke solution - we quickly realised that it overcame the issues associated with traditional connections to the distribution network.”

Since then Freedom has invested more than £500,000 developing and testing POC-MAST. It is available for connections up to 132kV to the most widely used tension and suspension towers on the UK distribution network.

The product has undergone full-scale testing at the Eucomsa test centre in Spain witnessed by representatives from UK Power Networks, Northern Powergrid and other network operators.

Key benefits of the POC-MAST include:

  • Improved safety levels during construction - greatly reduced time spent working at height; no crane lifting operations required
  • Considerable cost savings against traditional methods - no requirement to replace or modify existing towers
  • Minimal environmental impact - screw anchor foundations negate the need for deep excavations - typically saves more than 30 tonnes of concrete
  • Speed of completion, taking less than 20-weeks from concept to completion
  • Reduced circuit outage times for installation
  • Low maintenance as it’s fully galvanised, with a design life of 40-years.

Three commercial POC-MAST installations have already taken place within the UK Power Networks region which covers the East, South East and London.

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