To enable connection of the new substation to the existing Beauly to Denny overhead line which passes the site, Balfour Beatty have also commenced the construction of temporary towers that will for approximately 18 months, divert the line until the substation is ready to be connected.
The new Kinardochy reactive compensation substation will be located around three miles south of Tummel Bridge. The equipment being installed will play a critical role in ensuring voltage limits on the transmission network remain stable and power flows can be efficiently managed. It will allow for the connection of new renewable generation to the grid and enable clean energy to be transported to where it is needed most.
The substation will be built and operated initially at 275 kilovolts (kV) but is designed to operate at 400kV, ensuring that only minimal changes are required for any future upgrade to the operating voltage of the Beauly to Denny overhead line. The platform being formed will also be sized to ensure that any additional equipment to be sited at Kinardochy can be done so with minimal future works required.
Ahead of breaking ground on site, tree clearance has taken place over the last six months to pave the way for principal contractor Siemens Bam to begin the main substation construction works, along with ground investigations to understand the conditions below the surface.
The ground investigations confirmed the rock below the site can be crushed and reused to form the substation platform and permanent access road, limiting the amount of material which is required to be imported to site using HGVs. It also removes the need for any materials to be taken offsite for disposal. In total, teams expect to reuse some 84,000 cubic metres of rock.
Screening bunds will be constructed using natural material excavated from the work area to minimise the visual impact of the substation. The bunds will also be replanted with native tree species as well as seeded with local wildflowers which will not only help with visual impact but also encourage greater biodiversity in the area, allowing local flora and fauna to flourish, in line with SSEN Transmission’s commitment to deliver biodiversity net gain on its future projects. A section of trees to the north of the work area has also been retained to provide additional screening while the new plantings are given time to mature.
Careful consideration has been given to preserving the scenic area in which the substation will be located, with the substation itself being built into the slope of the land so it will be naturally screened by the landscape.
Compensatory tree planting work is planned with Dun Coillich Community Woodland immediately to the south of the substation later in the year, where native woodland tree species will be planted to replace the commercial forestry trees which were removed to make way for construction earlier in the project.
SSEN Transmission project manager Gary Milne said: “Breaking ground at Kinardochy marks the first major milestone in the development of this new substation, allowing our teams to begin work to install the new substation platform and access tracks to the site.
“Once installed, the new substation will play a key role in supporting the management of energy and maintain a safe and secure supply of electricity across the network.
“It’s really important to us that we take care of the surroundings in which we operate, and we’re paying close attention to the visual impact our substation might have on the local area. We’ve taken steps to mitigate against this by designing the substation so it is built into a natural slope and will also create screening bunds, which will be planted with native woodland and wildflower species to help biodiversity thrive in the area. We’re also limiting our import and export of materials as much as possible, which will not only cut down on our emissions from HGVs but ensure we’re reusing as much rock and topsoil material from the site as we can.
“We’ve been working closely with the local community to keep them informed as the project progresses, and we’ll continue to work with them to make sure they are kept up to date. As ever, we thank them for their patience in advance and we’ll continue to do all we can to keep any disruption to a minimum.”