Smith Brothers connects 50MW Cambridgeshire solar farm
Published: 13 February 2020 - Carly Wills
Yorkshire-headquartered high voltage power contractor, Smith Brothers, has successfully completed electrical engineering works at the Next Energy Capital Ltd solar farm in Little Staughton, Cambridgeshire.
Working as the independent connection provider (ICP) on the generation project, the 21-strong Smith Brothers team designed, constructed, installed and tested the UK Power Network’s (UKPN) 132kV substation and private 132/33kV customer substation, right on schedule.
With work having commenced on the Little Staughton airfield development in May 2019, the 50MW connection was finished in early December, and generation has already begun. Yet, construction at the green power site wasn’t without its challenges – as 6.5km of underground cabling was needed to traverse tricky obstacles.
Battling unpredictable weather conditions, the 4.7km of fibre-optic cabling – linking the new 132kV substation and that at Eaton Socon – needed to pass through agricultural land, while a further 1.8km electrical system required coordination of directional drilling across drainage ditches and roads.
Commenting on the partnership, NextEnergy Capital’s managing director, Ross Grier, said: “We were delighted to have Little Staughton online in time for Christmas. The last few months have been uncharacteristically wet – and we’ve seen flooding across much of the UK – so to have hit our deadline is testament to the talented team involved.
“This is the first time we have worked with the Smith Brothers team, but their turnkey solutions were exactly what we were looking for in an ICP, and we hope to continue to work together on subsequent schemes in the future.”
John Benson, project manager at Smith Brothers, added: “It has been a pleasure working alongside Next Energy Capital Ltd on the delivery of our first venture together. We were faced with some unexpected weather, but pulled together to complete another successful clean energy scheme.”