London's new energy superhighway, the London Power Tunnels, has officially opened. The £1bn project to rewire the capital involved creating a new network of 32km of tunnels to carry over 200km of high voltage electricity cables across London.
The London Power Tunnels is the most significant addition to London's electricity system since the 1960s, ensuring that the capital, and those living in it, have the electricity needed to rise to the challenges of the 21st Century.
Damian McGirr, Project Manager from COWI, was at the opening ceremony and saw HRH The Prince of Wales pressing the button to officially open the power tunnels.
"I can still remember the straight line on a map between Hackney and Willesden with the simple brief to go and find a route! It's great to see the successful completion and commissioning of the project some 10 years after we started. I am very proud of the work done by our team and the role we played in the scheme.”
Proposed route minimised risk
COWI carried out feasibility studies for various cable tunnel routes in London, and then undertook reference design and tender documentation for the preferred routes. This included a comprehensive ground investigation, designed to provide detailed information on the ground conditions.
Working with Thames Water, London Underground, Network Rail, local authorities, and the Environment Agency, COWI’s proposed route minimised depth and minimised exposure to 3rd Party risk by maximising clearance to other assets.
Another important decision was to place the new cables in tunnels underground, which helped avoid major disruption on the city’s streets. During construction, workers used electric cars above ground and bicycles in the tunnels below to reduce traffic emissions too.
COWI also produced environmental reports on aquifer contamination, lorry movements, noise, and the disposal of excavated material.
HRH The Prince of Wales donned his PPE and took a stroll down London's new energy superhighway, before pressing the button to officially open the London Power Tunnels.