The Longest AC Subsea Cable in the World
On 28/29 October 2000 something of a revolution in Manx power took place when the longest AC subsea cable in the World was first energised between the Isle of Man and Bispham at the north end of Blackpool in the UK. The power stations, the substations and the headquarters at Ballacottier were all fully manned as, for the first time, the Island fed power into the UK and then switched over to draw on UK power and so ended a period of total reliance on self-generation for the Isle of Man.
Though it may look much the same from the outside, the substation on North Quay in Douglas has been transformed on the inside. It's the point on the Island where the subsea cable connects before being passed onwards to Pulrose. The building and the transformers inside have been tested to very high safety specifications, as you would expect with such an important site.
The façade of the building is registered and great care was taken to ensure that, after all the work was completed, it looked as it did before. The successful commissioning of the interconnector cable gave MEA the necessary resilience to be able to create a Gas Turbine Power Station to replace the station built in 1929 and demolished in 2002.
CCGT Power Station
In 2003 the MEA constructed a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station at Pulrose on the Isle of Man.
The whole plant was designed to be cleaner environmentally and less visually intrusive. The plant uses air for cooling and not water from the river. Instead of the 2 chimneys of the old plant, just the one, of modern design, is featured.
It isn't just from the outside that the power plant is different from its predecessor. Natural Gas is brought in from a pipeline in the Irish Sea, fuelling two gas turbines. Exhaust heat will go through a boiler, which will, in turn, run a stream turbine.
The station allows for cleaner emissions, with Nitrogen Oxides reduced by 90% from the current levels, particulates reduced by 80% and sulphur dioxide reduced to ZERO.
In order to provide the necessary gas supply for the CCGT station, the MEA worked with Bord Gais Eireann to connect to the second Scotland to Ireland gas interconnector (SIPS2).
A T-Piece was provided in the SIPS2 pipeline with a sub-sea spur (approximately 11km) to land at Glen Mooar on the west coast of the Isle of Man from where a cross country pipeline (approximately 20km) runs to Pulrose.
A pressure reduction station (PRS) at Glen Mooar reduces pressure for transmission over land and to provide lower gas pressure for local distribution.
Environmental issues were given high priority on this project and MEA was committed to ensuring that the construction, commissioning and operation of the gas pipeline was undertaken so as to minimise, wherever practicable, its impact on the environment, e.g. no pollution of local water courses, minimising disturbance to local residence and maintaining a clean and tidy site.
The pipeline route was determined following extensive surveys and in consultation with Manx National Heritage, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manx Wildlife Trust, Manx Bird Atlas and Manx Bat Group.
On completion of the project extensive reinstatement work was undertaken and the environment restored to its natural beauty. The pipeline route passes through predominantly rural areas.
The MEA were committed to minimising the disruption to island residents during the construction works and took necessary action to minimise noise generation wherever practicable. Various sites along the pipeline route were identified as being of archaeological importance, particularly on Beary Mountain.
During the works archaeological specialists were involved and project personnel co-operated with these specialists.