New Technologies, New Products, New Applications # 2001 Munich
The very high costs of underground electrical power transmission preclude its widespread usage even where social and environmental concerns make it highly desirable. This paper examines the technologies of below ground alternatives to overhead power lines and identifies the opportunities for introducing pipeline disciplines to the subject of electrical power networks. The paper summarises the existing state-of-the-art of technologies that enable power distribution cables, operating at tens of kilovolts, to be ducted through uncooled plastic pipes and goes on to describe the more challenging design problems associated with the ducting of transmission cables operating at half a million volts. A tentative design solution, featuring large scale pipe arrays with integral forced cooling, is presented in order to demonstrate the potential scale of application for plastic pipelines, - and the great cost savings to be gained by adopting a, “no-dig (micro-tunnelling) approach”. Development of such a system could offer below ground power transmission at acceptable costs for environmentally sensitive areas and urban situations. Even a partial substitution of the worldwide construction of power transmission lines by such pipeline alternatives would constitute a major new market opportunity for pipe makers and pipeline constructors.