10 Major Transmission & Distribution Projects In 2019 And Beyond


The majority of populations rarely live in the same locations as sources of electricity gene...

NES Fircroft

By NES Fircroft

The majority of populations rarely live in the same locations as sources of electricity generation. Whether it’s coal-fired power plants or solar arrays, the sources of electricity generation and sources of electricity demand are generally separated by considerable distances. It’s the job of transmission and distribution networks to bridge those distances and supply homes and business while losing as little electricity along the way.

But with a growing global population, increasingly dense cities (the UN predicts that two thirds of the world’s people will live in cities by 2050) and a continued growth in electricity demand from both domestic and business sources, the challenge is on for power companies to generate and transmit the necessary electricity.

Here are 10 major Transmission & Distribution projects that are starting up in 2019 and beyond in response to that challenge.

State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) Transmission Lines

Region: Asia
Value: $33.7bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2020

To meet the needs of China’s electricity hungry cities and industrial zones, the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) is in the process of building 12 electricity transmission lines linking the coal production and hydropower centres in inland areas to the densely populated eastern parts of the country. The transmission lines will transport electricity from Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Yunnan to Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, as well as to two economic hubs along the Yangtze and Pearl rivers.

Notable elements of the projects include a new 1.1-million-volt ultra-high voltage DC (UHVDC) line which has broken records for voltage, power and distance. According to China’s state grid company, the line can transmit up to 12 gigawatts, which is enough to power 50 million Chinese households. Other parts of the project to note include four ultra-high voltage alternating current (UHV AC) power transmission lines and three 500kV transmission lines.

Russia-Japan Energy Bridge

Region: Russia/Asia
Value: $6bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2020

Russia has abundant hydrocarbon resources, Japan doesn’t. The solution? The Russia-Japan Energy Bridge. 

This project, which is still under discussion on a technical and financial level between the two countries will see the construction of a coal-fired power plant with a capacity of up to 1,050MW in the central part of Sakhalin (this coal-fired plant may also be supplemented with a hydropower plant). Generated electricity will then be transmitted via a D/C power line to La Perouse Strait. From here an underwater power line will transmit the electricity to Japan.

It has been reported that the Russian-Japan Energy Bridge could be the starting point for an ‘energy ring’ which would link Russia and a series of Asia-Pacific countries. With Sakhalin containing enough brown coal reserves to last at least 100 - 150 years, and countries across Asia seeing no slowing of electricity demand, the odds seem to be in favour of such a project proceeding.

Atlantic Wind Connection - Transmission

Region: Americas
Value: $5bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2020 (although the project may be on hold)

As we’ve seen recently, the USA is beginning to embrace offshore wind energy in a big way. But aside from building large-scale offshore wind farms, there’s a need for a large-scale T&D system to get that energy onshore and into homes and businesses. That’s where the Atlantic Wind Connection comes in. Designed as an offshore, undersea transmission system that will span the mid-Atlantic region, the Atlantic Wind Connection project will begin off the coast of northern New Jersey and will eventually extend to southern Virginia.

Although a lack of news from the project developer suggests that the project may be on hold, we wanted to include it in this list for its sheer scale and ambition. If it does indeed go ahead, it’ll be a major source of employment opportunities for power industry professionals across North America, creating tens of thousands of jobs throughout the project lifecycle.

It’s anticipated that the Atlantic Wind Connection project will support the development of up to 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy - enough to power 2 million homes. Utilising HVDC technology and with the backing of technology giants such as Google this is definitely one T&D project to watch in 2019 and beyond.

EuroAsia Interconnector

Region: Europe/Asia
Value: $4.1bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2022

The EuroAsia Interconnector project is part of a European network of intra-country and cross-border electricity grids which are interconnected via bi-directional cables to provide stable and sufficient electricity supply through national transmission operators.

The EuroAsia Interconnector will see the construction of the world’s longest submarine power cable between Greece, Cyprus and Israel to create an ‘energy highway’ using HVDC technology. Construction of the project will be carried out in two phases. The first stage consists of the construction of a 500kV, 1,000MW submarine cable and eight HVDC onshore stations. The second stage will upgrade the electricity interconnector to 2,000MW.

The interconnector itself is expected to stretch 1,518km and would be laid at a maximum depth of 3,000m undersea (equal to the height of 8 times the Empire State building). The individual sections will be: 310km Israel to Cyprus; 879km Cyprus to Crete; 329km Crete to Attica. Once the second stage upgrade of the interconnector has taken place it will be able to provide electricity to 3 million households (or cities of Berlin and Madrid combined - or 2 million people at peak load).

EuroAfrica Interconnector

Region: Europe/North Africa
Value: $4bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2022

Should this project proceed as planned Egypt, Cyprus and Greece will be connected via a 2,000MW electricity interconnector by 2022. The EuroAfrica interconnector is another ‘electricity highway’ which will connect national grids via a subsea cable with HVDC onshore convertor stations at each connection point. One of the key aims of the EuroAfrica Interconnector project is to end the energy isolation of Cyprus, which is currently the last member of the European Union which remains fully isolated without any electricity of gas interconnections.

The 1,707km route of the Euro Africa Interconnector will be divided into three segments: 498km from Damietta (Egypt) to Kofinou (Cyprus); 879km from Kofinou (Cyprus) to Korakia (Greece); 330km from Korakia (Greece) to Attica (Greece).

Given the marine habitats the interconnector will pass through, the project is taking special precautionary methods to protect the environment. Sub-sea routes are being determined to avoid significant natural formations and geological obstacles. Once built, the interconnector cable itself will be buried at least two metres beneath ground and will therefore be invisible for the entire route.

BRITIB Project

Region: UK/Europe
Value: $3.7bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2020

The BRITIB (Bretagne-Britain-Iberia) project will see the development and construction of a three-branched submarine 1,000MW HVDC interconnector linking Spain, France and the UK. The BRITIB interconnector will cover approximately 1,330km along a mostly subsea route from Spain to the UK, along the French coast.

Grain Belt Express Clean Line

Region: Americas
Value: $3bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2020

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver approximately 4,000MW of low-cost wind power from western Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and neighbouring states that have strong demand for clean, reliable energy. This energy will be transported via an approximately 780-mile overhead DC transmission line. Once the line has reached Sullivan, it will link into existing high-voltage transmission lines for further distribution to the east, such as New Jersey and Washington D.C. The transmission lines will be on single steel poles, about 120 to 140 feet tall, in a 150-foot to 200-foot right of way. 

Although originally conceived by Clean Line Energy Partners, all of the assets and associated project plans were acquired by Invenergy in November 2018 which will now proceed with the project. Funding for the line to date has been provided via a participant-funded, merchant model. This essentially means that the line’s construction will be paid for by the renewable energy generators and load serving entities that purchase transmission capacity on the line.

Once completed the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will transmit enough clean energy to power 1.6 million homes per year. The project is expected to create approximately 1,500 jobs.

TransWest Express Transmission Line

Region: Americas
Value: $3bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2022

The arid southwest region of the United States is eager to increase the amount of clean energy it uses. However, it’s not an ideal location for wind generation. In response to this dilemma the TransWest Express Transmission Line is being planned to transmit low-cost wind power from the blustery plains of Wyoming to the energy hungry cities and conurbations of California, Nevada and Arizona.

The line is being conceived of as a 730-mile (1,174km) 600kV HVDC transmission line engineered with lower-visibility lattice structures to complement the existing lines in the western landscape. The line will carry a capacity of 3,000MW and will deliver about 20,000GWh per year. A link is also expected to be created between the diverse renewable resources in the Rocky Mountain and Desert Southwest regions to transmit energy to utilities in both regions when the wind blows and the sun shines. For example, using Wyoming wind to help fill in the times when the Southwest’s sun isn’t shining, will help local utilities to reduce their reliance on traditional peak fuels (oil, gas etc) and also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The TransWest Express Transmission Line project should create up to 1,000 construction-related jobs.

National Grid Power Infrastructure Frameworks

Primary location: England
Value: $3bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2021

The UK’s National Grid is implementing two new build and refurbishment schemes; the Overhead Lines Design & Build Framework, and the Onshore Underground Cable Framework. The framework agreement for the new build and refurbishment of overhead lines will include the construction of new overhead lines and the refurbishment and reinforcement of existing infrastructure across England Wales. The Onshore Underground Cable Framework will include new cable installations, and planned replacement and refurbishment schemes across National Grid’s 33kV to 400kV underground cable transmission network spanning England and Wales.

Companies commissioned by National Grid to undertake work for the two schemes include Wood Plc, J Murphy & Sons, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Costain, Laing O’Rourke and several others.

Russia-North Korea Power Bridge (Primorye-Rosan)

Primary location: Primorsky Region, Russia
Value: $3bn (approx.)
Start Up: 2022

The Russia-North Korea Power Bridge would see the construction of power and transmission infrastructure to supply electricity from Primorye in Russia to the special economic zone in Rason, North Korea. The planned point of connection is near the intersection of the borders of North Korea, China and Russia. The project potentially includes a crossing over the Tumannaya River on the border.

Details on this project are scant, with little known beyond the estimated value and the proposed operator - RAO Energy System of the East. As of February 2018, reports suggested that the feasibility study had been completed.

New Transmission & Distribution projects need new talent
Across the world we are seeing new build T&D projects being sanctioned or existing T&D networks being refurbished. In the US alone, around 70 percent of the grid’s transmission lines and power transformers are over 25 years old (with the average plant being over 30 years old). The same can be said for the grids of many western and eastern European nations too.

Aside from the need for new and refurbished T&D networks, the introduction of new technologies, generation modes and business models such as smart grids, renewables, distributed energy resources and lifecycle asset performance management mean that there is a more pressing need than ever to recruit the very technical and engineering professionals.

So, now’s the time to charge up your career and secure your next Transmission & Distribution job with NES Fircroft.

NES Fircroft and Power

NES Fircroft is a global workforce provider which specialises in providing engineering expertise for organisations involved in a diverse range of plant technologies for the engineering, construction, commissioning & start up, and operations & maintenance of power generation and hydrocarbon facilities space, ranging from OEM vendors and EPC contractors to third party service organisations.

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