The National Grid’s £1bn London Power Tunnels project has been officially opened.
The 200km of high voltage electricity cables carried inside a network of tunnels is the most significant addition to London’s electricity system since the 1960s.
The 32km of tunnels, running from Hackney in the east to Willesden in the west, and from Kensal Green to Wimbledon in the south also house some local electricity network company’s cables.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The £1bn London Power Tunnels is exactly the type of investment and innovative infrastructure project that the Government wants to encourage through our modern Industrial Strategy.
“This important infrastructure will help increase productivity by cutting the number of road works needed for maintenance, as well as powering London with the safe and reliable electricity supplies it needs for the future.”
HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall officially opened the project by visiting Highbury substation, one of two new substations built as part of the project.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers head of engineering Jenifer Baxter added: “The National Grid’s project to modernise the capital’s electricity transmission network is an important step towards managing the evolving needs of electricity generation and demand.
”Media attention on significant projects of this scale has often been directed towards Crossrail and the Thames Tideway Tunnel, but this is an equally important scheme. The project brings together different engineering disciplines involved in the construction of the tunnels and the new transmission network, and showcases the fantastic work of UK engineers.”
The ten new 400kV transmission circuits inside the tunnels will initially carry up to 20% of the electricity needed in London, more when older parts of the electricity network, built in the 1950s, are decommissioned.
National Grid’s decision to place the new cables in tunnels underground helped avoid major disruption on the capital’s streets, and during construction, workers used electric cars above ground and bicycles in the tunnels below to reduce traffic emissions too.
Tunnelling work was completed on the project in 2015 after four years of digging.