New Solihull grid connection is potential energy solution

Public and private sector organisations have joined forces to address a predicted shortfall in power supply at The UK Central Hub in Solihull, and to propose a new solution to support the area’s economic growth potential.

The Urban Growth Company – set up by Solihull Council to coordinate growth and facilitate infrastructure investment at the land near Birmingham Airport, the NEC and the new HS2 Interchange Station – has brought together key stakeholders to look at ways to meet the expected demand for power at the site.

The Hub is set to experience significant growth over the next 15 years, placing extra pressure on current power supplies.

This includes the redevelopment of Birmingham International Station, growth at Birmingham Airport and the NEC, a new Metro tram service, an automated people mover and future development at Arden Cross. It also includes Jaguar Land Rover’s growing focus on electric vehicle production and the increasing public use of electric vehicles too.

As such, Jaguar Land Rover, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, Solihull Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority are co-funding the initial project which will forecast the combined future power requirements across The Hub.

An outline solution will then be developed, with early indications suggesting that a new primary substation connected to the national electricity transmission system (NTS) will be the most effective outcome.

Philip Farrell, Interim Managing Director at the Urban Growth Company, explained the importance of the partnership approach:

“The Hub is all about creating something which is greater than the sum of the parts and this collaborative project is the perfect example of this in action.

“Solihull Council identified this potential shortfall and we’ve been able to confirm it – this next step is about working with partners to find the solution.”

Engineering design consultancy Rolton Group’s specialist energy team has been appointed to deliver the project, with an initial recommendation to stakeholders expected in late spring 2019. If as anticipated, a new primary substation is the preferred option, a separate application will be made to fund a feasibility study with National Grid with potential agreement possible as early as mid-2020.