140 new composite poles, which will connect the Dorenell wind farm to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks' (SSEN) Blackhillock substation, near Keith, Scotland, have been installed with the help of a specialist helicopter.
This innovative technology, which uses a durable composite polymer instead of the traditional timber, is the first of its kind to be installed on the UK's transmission network, and has been specially adapted to meet the unique terrain and environment of the northeast of Scotland.
The use of the specialist Erickson S-64 Air Crane helicopter, which can hold up to a 10-tonne load, allowed the construction team to overcome the rugged terrain whilst minimising disturbance to the environment and community.
Paul Higginbotham, lead project manager at SSEN, said: "This is a new way of delivering electricity in Scotland and I am proud that we are the first transmission network owner to use composite poles in the UK. The use of composite materials means they have a stronger strength/weight ratio than the traditional wood pole alternative. They are also less visually intrusive than steel lattice towers.
"We shipped in the Erickson S64-F Air Crane from the USA to lift and install the poles. This innovative installation method meant that we did not require access tracks for the erection process and were able to install the poles quickly in locations that would have been difficult to access by crane."
Erickson president of commercial aviation services, Andrew Mills commented: "We like being part of new innovative projects that are a win-win-win. This project is good for the citizens of northern Scotland as they have access to renewable energy, it is a better option for the environment and it is good for our customer. We appreciate the opportunity to bring our expertise and efficiency to Balfour Beatty's project."
SSEN has engaged Balfour Beatty as the principal contractor to supply, install and connect the 140 composite poles.