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Pharaoh’s Island receives unique £100k electricity network upgrade

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Pharaoh’s Island is perhaps best known as the island given to Admiral Nelson following the success of the Battle of the Nile, but recently the historic island received a £100,000 upgrade to its electricity network. 

Given the island’s unique location in the middle of the River Thames, upgrading the electricity network was no easy feat for UK Power Networks. In fact, it required engineers to commute by boat, given there’s no road connection to the island. 

The upgrade was performed to maintain reliable electricity supplies for residents on and off the island. Thankfully for UK Power Networks, the £100,000 upgrade wasn’t just for improving network resilience of the 23 homes on the island, but also a way to improve network reliability for around 200 homes in the surrounding area. 

Alex Young, a field engineer who led the project at UK Power Networks, commented, “It has been a memorable job. The most challenging part is that our substation is on an island on the River Thames and the only way to get there is via a boat.

“The logistics of getting a three-tonne transformer, cabling and switchgear onto the island meant we needed to hire a barge, crane and enlist specialist boat people who know the river.

“I always like a challenge, so I have enjoyed working on this project.”

Every day, for about three weeks, the team met at Shepperton Lock and were taken to the island by boat. They installed approximately 300m of new cabling and replaced a 1950s transformer with modern new equipment which can be remotely controlled from the company’s control centre.

The new equipment has modern automation, enabling engineers to quickly reconnect electricity supplies in the area if a power cut was ever to happen. In the past, if there was a fault, engineers needed to reach the island by boat to reconnect supplies. The introduction of automation will reduce the need for engineers to reach the island.

Alex added, “With automation we can restore more power supplies within the first three minutes. The new equipment has fault path indicators and tele-control, so if we can see where the fault is our control engineers can restore supplies on the healthy circuits.”

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