It was reported in the news yesterday the Welsh Government can’t intervene to stop National Grid building pylons across Anglesey to connect the new Wylfa nuclear power plant to the mainland grid at Bangor. It’s a story I have been following closely since it came to my attention a few years back. This news comes after feedback from the residents that they are still unhappy with the proposed plans, even though National Grid have now agreed they will bury the cables sub-sea in the Menai Straits which was one of the key areas outlined in their original report. Ultimately, as an Engineering student I feel that this is the correct decision overall (and I haven’t seen a lot of positive comments anywhere), even though it will be disappointing news for many, let me explain why.
National Grid is a business which exists to provide the connected energy grid for the United Kingdom. They maintain a large and complex network, which is under change due to energy sources and demands, the complexity of the task they perform goes beyond what many people imagine. They have a responsibility to provide a network, which is not only cost-effective, but reliable.
We all rely on energy, which means they ultimately touch everyone’s lives in some way (unless you live in a cave or something). As a business, they have social responsibility too, they must act in a way that is sustainable and take into account the areas in which they are present. However, in a world dominated by money, cost effectiveness will always outweigh other responsibilities as long as legal requirements are met. This is exactly the reason why in my opinion, asking them to build a HVDC link from Anglesey to Deeside is nothing more than a mad dream by someone who sees the world as nothing other than perfect, it will just never happen as for National Grid, the risks far outweigh the potential benefits, in fact for them there are ultimately no benefits in doing so if they have secured permission to build pylons. Such a link not only massively complicates the distribution network, but also adds millions in costs not only to build the link but maintain/repair it in the event of a failure. Ask your inner business person what would you do? I’m pretty sure I know what the answer would be.
I will come out and say now that I agree whole heartedly with people, pylons are ugly, they scar the landscape just like roads however being someone who has grown up in a world where we take stable energy for granted, I maybe don’t notice them as much. In my eyes, they are a necessary evil. I don’t want to look at them, I don’t think anyone does, but when I get home from a long day I want to flip the switch and my kettle to work, you can’t have one without the other which is a realisation which I have come to accept.
It’s funny, people oppose almost everything to do with energy, they object to wind farms, pylons, tidal lagoons, new power stations and who am I to tell them they are wrong, but to me, they are fighting for the view of a perfect world, and that world will never exist. If history has taught us anything, it will always be a little sacrifice for the benefit of the greater good, and in this case the greater good needs those pylons, it is the only sensible way.