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Second power cable to France would make ageing power station less essential

Second power cable to France would make ageing power station less essential

Friday 22 February 2019

Second power cable to France would make ageing power station less essential


Equipment in the power station, which is right at the end of its useable life, won't necessarily need to be replaced if Guernsey Electricity go ahead with its planned direct cable to France.

This comes as the utility's Chief Executive, Alan Bates, has been speaking about their new plan to replace the cable GJ1 that runs to France via Jersey.

He would like to see a second cable laid directly to France - a move he has said would mostly negate the need for "security" on island in the case of cable failures or essential maintenance.

cable Guernsey electricity jersey

The power station has been powering Guernsey since the cable to Jersey experienced multiple faults in October last year. 

But as things stand, that security is the power station on the Bridge, and it has been running flat out for the last few months since the Jersey/Guernsey cable broke down in October. Since that point, GE estimate it has generated two thirds of the island's electricity.

However inside the station is a collection of different kit - some bits are newer, but some bits are around 40 years old, Mr Bates admitted. 

"Currently we have got a power station that has got two newer engines in, it's got gas turbines in and it's also got some very ageing assets coming up to 40 years old. Do those assets still run and work? Yep, they are running today and supplying the island," he said.

"Are they getting to the end of their useful economic life? Absolutely, but that sort of aligns with our future investment plan. What we are saying is we want two cables to the island, so if one cable is not available we can use the other. That provides a different level of security and then the power station sort of takes on a completely different role. It's then there as a standby generator, not as a base line generator."

Alan Bates Guernsey Electricity

Alan Bates, Chief Executive of Guernsey Electricity Limited. 

Mr Bates described much of the equipment they use inside the power station as like "trigger's broom", meaning all of the parts have been replaced over time. This was a way they kept everything running economically. 

And while he said he would ideally have a station full of top-of-the-range equipment, that was never going to be viable when they were looking at this French cable as well.

"That's our strategy, we are very keen on this direct connection to France. It's very key to make sure the power station uses are completely understood, we don't think we need as much security on island if we have two cables, so some of those older engines will be decommissioned. 

"Some of the support systems, and some of the cooling and exhaust systems are getting past their sell-by-date, but I think the oldest engine in the power station is running today, and it's happily running."

The utility's project to have that cable link with France has been underway for a couple of years now, but it is estimated to take between five to eight years to have the connection fully signed off and installed. This is down to all of the planning permissions and consents needed.

That means the earliest Guernsey will be looking at having this second cable is 2023 to 2025 - so until then, the power station will have to be ready to pick up any more slack. 

Pictured top: the power station on the Bridge. 

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