New project aims to help balance National Grid power requirements

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Energy Assets Utilities (EAU) is working alongside project managers Stag Energy and Keekle Power to bring a 20MW gas peaking plant online near Southampton, supporting National Grid to balance its power requirements.

The plant will enable Keekle Power to provide low cost, dispatchable power to the local distribution system and fulfil its Capacity Market obligation. Peaking plants are being created across Britain and come into operation when there is a peak in demand for power from the electricity grid. EAU is one of the leading utility network construction businesses working in the sector, having completed more than 40 such schemes.

The latest project involved the design and construction of a complex gas infrastructure, including a 140m directional drill under the main Southampton railway line to connect the site to the gas network. The 10 gas fired reciprocating engines generating the electricity required a gas load of 54MW at around 250mb inlet pressure.

Dennis Habergham, EAU design and technical manager, said that a root protection area meant open-trench digging works were not feasible, so a non-intrusive directional drilling approach was employed instead.

“The undercrossing of the railway was another one of the major challenges,” said Dennis. “We originally planned a total drill length of 120m passing 7m below the track level, but we had to contend with an unforeseen World War II concrete structure, which meant going deeper and extending the drill length to 140m. The completed supply pipeline was then connected to an IP to LP gas regulator/meter skid also installed by EAU.”

Joe Grant, project manager at Stag Energy, said that peaking power plants were playing an increasingly important role in balancing the nation’s power requirements due to the increased volume of intermittent renewables which require balancing.

“This plant will provide power to local homes and businesses at times of high demand or unexpected drops in supply,” he said. “The site was selected for its proximity to the nearby electricity sub-station and was originally going to be a diesel site, but regulatory change meant it was then developed as a gas operation. We spoke to a number of contractors, but Energy Assets had a wealth of experience in technically challenging projects and we are really pleased with the job they have done here.”

EAU spotted an opportunity in the peaking plant market around four years ago and has since developed a specialist design and network construction team that has gone on to complete more than 40 schemes on behalf of operators.

Nathan Schofield, sales and marketing director at EAU, commented: “In addition to our established gas network construction and metering operations, we have also extended our in-house electrical design capability, so that we can deliver a true ‘end-to-end’ service for peaking plant customers. Today, we are one of the leading utility network design and construction companies in this sector in Britain.”