Feeding the National Grid

Feeding the National Grid

A new energy farm in Northamptonshire has utilised our specialist fuel conveyance pipework system, PLX, as part of the fuel transfer network for its bank of new diesel-powered generators.

The new 5MW power plant is designed for short-term operation, as a back-up function for the National Grid, to provide instant electricity during peak times. With the National Grid requiring approximately 20GW of reliable standby generation, it is crucial that all energy farms can perform as expected when called upon.

As a result, it was important that the new power plant in Northamptonshire installed high performing equipment and systems that could ensure a reliable operation when needed. With power generated from 12 new diesel generator sets designed and installed by main contractor Makpower, a reliable fuel transfer network was required to feed the generators. Makpower tasked fuel systems specialists, Forecourt Installation services, with designing an effective solution.

Supplying and installing all tanks, gauging and fuel transfer systems, Forecourt Installation Services installed three 16,000 litre bulk storage tanks in front of the generators to hold the diesel. Requiring a reliable pipework system to feed the generators, Forecourt Installation Services selected Durapipe PLX, a purpose-designed fuel conveyance pipework system.

Secondary contained close-fit PLX in size 50mm#63mm was used for three main feed lines to transfer diesel from the bulk tanks, before splitting into four branch lines to feed each generator. As a safety measure, single wall PLX in size 63mm has been installed for overflow lines to transfer fuel back from each generator to the bulk tanks if needed.

One of the main challenges for Forecourt Installation Services was not being able to lay the pipe underground. The planning permission for the farm only granted a small space, so working in a confined area meant that once the necessary electric cables had been laid underground, there was no space for the fuel lines. As a result, a complex configuration of bracketing was required to install the PLX pipe at eye level.

Forecourt Installation Services worked closely with our technical team to design the correct positioning and number of brackets to ensure the pipework remains secure. Working outdoors, at height and in confined spaces to fit the pipework, the lightweight benefits of PLX offered significant benefits for Forecourt Installation Services, as it was much easier to handle than metal alternatives, helping to reduce the installation time.

With the pipe only being used for back-up supply to support the main transmission, it is crucial the fuel can be efficiently delivered to the generators when called upon. While the corrosion of steel pipe can cause the pipe to clog over time, subsequently restricting the flow of fuel, the smooth bore of PLX ensures consistent flow rates over the lifetime of the system.

Commenting on the project, Andrew West, Managing Director at Forecourt Installation Services said: “While we have delivered fuel systems for energy farm projects previously, this was a complex configuration due to the height of the pipework installation and so we needed to work with trusted partners.

“There was a strict timeframe on this project so utilising Durapipe PLX not only benefited the end client due to the performance characteristics of the system, but also offered advantages to us as installers with ease of handling on site contributing to ensuring we completed the project on time.”

PLX is manufactured as a multilayer pipe utilising the superior mechanical characteristics of polyethylene as a base material, which enables the pipe to be permanently welded using electrofusion technology. Providing exceptional resistance to rapid crack propagation and long term stress cracking, PLX comprises a protective liner, which increases permeation resistance against many types of fuel blends ensuring there is no permeation of fuel through the pipe wall into the environment.

Click here to find out more about our PLX pipework system.

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