back to article National Grid's new designer pylon is 'too white and boring' – Pylon Appreciation Society

The UK's National Grid has planted the first of its new "T-pylons" — an elegant alternative to the traditional steel lattice monsters currently straddling Blighty's green and pleasant land. The T-pylon was born from a 2011 competition won by Danish architects Bystrup, who came up with a 35 meter-high monopole base design, …

  1. Bassey

    Nice website

    I couldn't help but chuckle at the "FAQ". Surely that must be stretching the definition of "Frequently" to breaking point?

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Nice website

      "Is there one specific pylon in this country that's seen as the top dog or one which you particularly like?"

      Heh!

      Yup, I've actually been sitting here wondering about that for a very long time - so I'm glad that website exists to answer my question! And I'm sooo glad two that are almost on my doorstep - the two spanning the Severn Estuary - get a mention in answer to that.

      No, really. Would I lie about something as glorious and beautiful as the pylon?

      Why, yes, yes I would.

      In all seriousness, though, if I was a member of that society, I'm afraid I'd be a dissenting voice - because I quite like the appearance of the new ones.

      But then, I also quite like wind turbines, despite other people around me thinking they're ugly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        too white and boring

        Is it cause i is white!

        I take offense at that, bunch of racists!

      2. disorder

        Re: Nice website

        If they look like wind turbines already you could think it may make sense to actually put a wind turbine on top too. If they can still claim land to plant pylons through eminent domain then surely, the only people that'd be offended by fixing our renewables obligations would be greens?

        1. Suricou Raven

          Re: Nice website

          Turbines can't feed into those transmission lines directly - serious voltage mismatch. You could almost make it work, but you'd need a bunch of switchgear and a big transformer down the bottom - and if you need that, it'd be more efficient to use multiple turbines all hooked up to a common substation.

    2. ItsNotMe
      WTF?

      Re: Nice website

      The fact that there even exists a Pylon Appreciation Society shows that some people really need to rethink their lives.

  2. toxicdragon

    White pylon

    Sorry but I like these, almost look like something out of a Sci Fi film, now if we can just get the upright barrel style windmills instead of the propeller kind I will be happy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: White pylon

      Wind turbine efficiency is already pretty dire without the added losses from having the blades push against the wind for half their cycle. The may look pretty, but they're shit.

      1. toxicdragon

        Re: White pylon

        Well yeah probably, but they still look cool.

        1. Kevin Reilly

          Re: White pylon

          I think they would look better in Coyote brown or even a nice Flectarn Camo. with Hi Vis where the lines fit for elf & saftey.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: White pylon

            I think it's not my place to say what colours or patterns they should have. It should be thrown open to local communities. Schedule days when they can be turned off and provide some scaffolding and paint, and let people turn up and decorate them. What's the worst that could happen?

          2. BernardL

            Re: White pylon

            Nah, Flecktarn's too dark and it blurs to black past 100 metres or so. You want something more like Pletsloring for foresty areas. Or PenCott.

            For something on a skyline, it would be great if there was such a thing as a light grey/green camo that was useless for anything else... Oh, wait, UCP.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: White pylon

        "Wind turbine efficiency is already pretty dire "

        That's true. But you're assuming that they are intended to be efficient and effective. Any deductive reasoning leads to the conclusion that wind turbines are built solely for the sake of being seen to do something. Total UK spend on renewables to date is around £38bn, which has purchased around 20 GW of wind and solar PV capacity, with an average load factor (across onshore wind, offshore wind, solar) of around 25%, with around 6% load factor on the 100 coldest days of the year.

        The same money would have bought 10 GW of nuclear plant (event at EDF & Areva's comically over-priced offer for Hinkley Point C), but that would have operated at around 90% load factor, and because outages are scheduled, close on 100% availability on the coldest days. So nuclear power would give you twice the total output of the crummy renewables, reliably and when you need.

        So I come back to the tokenism of wind turbines. Monuments to muddle headed thinking, erected at the behest of civil servants and politicians spending other people's money.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: White pylon

          @Ledswinger

          And don't forget, nuclear is the power that keeps on giving. Our great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to shovel a couple of kilos of nuclear waste into their hot water bottle and keep the bed warm without wasting any hot water.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: White pylon@ Pen-y-gors

            "Our great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to shovel a couple of kilos of nuclear waste into their hot water bottle and keep the bed warm without wasting any hot water"

            Managing nuclear waste is a fairly straightforward concept. It has a cost, but ultimately it came out the ground, you shove it back into the ground. I know this is challenging for the calvinist-guilt ethic that seems to be an essential for all "environmentalists".

            The UK's spiralling decommissioning costs reflect 1950's designs that have more irradiated mass than modern designs, and in particular the appalling practices at the Sellafield plant primarily related to nuclear weapons development. Sellafield alone represents 74% of total UK decommissioning costs, and that's virtually all down to research and armaments. Nuclear power decommissioning costs will turn out around £40bn (undiscounted) including the sites not included in the NDA portfolio. Over their lifetime the assets concerned will have generated around 3.2 PWh of electricity, so the decommissioning costs for nuclear power are about 1.25 p/kWh, and modern designs would probably be less than a quarter of that. It'd be even cheaper if the bunglers of the civil service could be kept well away.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: White pylon

            "Our great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to shovel a couple of kilos of nuclear waste"

            Only if we persist in using inefficient uranium PWR systems.

          3. Stuart21551

            Re: White pylon

            'into their hot water bottle and keep the bed warm without wasting any hot water'

            & more savings, on contraceptives!

        2. Mike 125

          Re: White pylon

          @Ledswinger

          Cool. And even better, we can just let the kids worry about the decommissioning and clean up, somewhere down the line. They'll thank us for keeping the lights on. And in any case, there's no problem with any of that sh't, right, nothing a good, stiff broom can't budge, right?

          Ahhh... amortising costs out to the future, to screw up the future - it's so great.

          Now, back to a serious question: how do you actually measure the efficiency of a wind turbine? Power out / Power in, but how do you measure the Power in?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: White pylon

            but how do you measure the Power in?

            Wind speed and surface area, it just falls out from basic maths.

          2. boltar Silver badge

            Re: White pylon

            "Cool. And even better, we can just let the kids worry about the decommissioning and clean up, somewhere down the line. "

            If we keep burning fossil fuels because renewables arn't up to the job then the kids will have more urgent things to worry about than a few hundred tons of nuclear waste which could happily fit in a few railway wagons.

            1. Whit.I.Are

              Re: White pylon

              My kids never turn the flipping lights off, so it's their own fault...

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: White pylon

              "If we keep burning fossil fuels because renewables arn't up to the job then the kids will have more urgent things to worry about than a few hundred tons of nuclear waste which could happily fit in a few railway wagons."

              Whilst I agree with you on principle, it's probably only remotely sensible to put the low level waste in this sort of containment (stuff like gloves used to handle the outsides of the containers of higher-level stuff, etc.)

              With high level waste, like spent fuel, you might find you end up with a couple of railway-carriage shaped holes emitting a strange blue glow.

        3. boltar Silver badge

          Re: White pylon

          "erected at the behest of civil servants and politicians spending other people's money."

          For once don't blame the politicians. These absurd situation has resulted from endless eco-mentalist pressure groups pushing renewables and causing endless trouble whenever nuclear is put on the table. If any government even attempted to build a nuclear plant at a new site the rent a crowd would immediately descend and cause chaos and meanwhile the suited mentalists would be throwing every legal obstacle and nimby found under a rock at it that they could find.

          The end result - you end up with the situation in germany where despite an EU pledge to reduce carbon emissions the idiots there are closing their nuclear plants and opening coal & gas fired plants because their grand renewables schemes won't keep the lights on on their own. Well who knew?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: White pylon

            "If any government even attempted to build a nuclear plant at a new site the rent a crowd would immediately descend and cause chaos"

            It does make one wonder why they don't just build on MoD land. There's plenty of it around the country and already secure in many cases and with specific laws regarding access. Not just huge training areas but disused army and RAF bases.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: White pylon@ John Brown (no body)

              "It does make one wonder why they don't just build on MoD land. "

              This was looked at when they were considering plans to build new nuclear, as you say it would be sensible. But even more sensible to build next retiring nuclear plant (eg Wylfa, Oldbury, Bradwell) because these have some form of grid export capability and so don't require new power lines to the same extent, and the local communities generally accept nuclear power as safe.

              So with the limited level of ambition for new UK nuclear there wasn't really the need to use old military land.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: White pylon

          Here's a potential safer nuclear alternative. I'm not qualified to determine it's viability but there is much work worldwide in the pebble bed and thorium reactor field and so remain hopeful.

          http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2012/10/12/what-to-do-with-135000-pebbles-generate-a-lot-of-c02-free-safe-nuclear-power-says-south-african-startup/

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: White pylon

            "Here's a potential safer nuclear alternative....."

            PBMR has been around for many years now. It's proven at concept level, it works, and it lends itself to much smaller scale plants than say the huge EPR plants that Areva are struggling to complete and commission in Europe.

            There's certainly reason to believe it would be less prone to the sort of catastrophic meltdown of Chernobyl or Fukushima, but against this the proportionate overheads of smaller nuclear plants will be much higher, and certain operational, security and logistical details really don't work in favour of smaller nuclear plants. So as a result it has never really managed to make itself economically viable, and the idea has repeatedly been passed on.

          2. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: White pylon

            PBMRs are a great design, but no-one's taken it further... But this is what happens when you sell your interest in nuclear reactor designs and manufacturers to those incumbents who stick to the old 'boil some water' adage.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Pebble Bed Reactors (was White Pylon)

              I understood that there were still a bunch of issues with the pebble bed design that came to light in the german AVR reactor, and that it's not quite the panacea that it's been made out to be...

              Only source I can find is this slashdot comment.

              Edit: found a few more authorititive links:

              http://www.neimagazine.com/features/featurepbr-safety-revisited/

              http://www.fz-juelich.de/portal/EN/AboutUs/self-conception/responsibility/avr/avr-expertengruppe/report-avr-expert-group_summary.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

        5. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: White pylon

          There are a couple of places where wind turbines are worthwhile - places that have consistent wind and good exposure, plus not so far from the grid that major new builds are needed.

          Such places are not in the UK - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Te_Apiti_Wind_Farm

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: White pylon

            Re: Wind power: "Such places are not in the UK"

            Don't believe the NZ propaganda! They're claiming a load factor of 32.4%, which is good for onshore units, but not so good compared to the 37-39% year round average achieved by UK offshore units. And whilst not universally true, as a general rule it is often impracticable to build decent size (5MW+) turbines on land, so you'll see the NZ site has poxy, short-bottomed 1.65 MW units - they're letting more than half the wind energy drift on by.

            1. toxicdragon

              Re: White pylon

              Christ I only said that I think they look cool. Didn't realise it would turn into this, sill I suppose its nice to have a discussion.

        6. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: White pylon

          You have seen that the people who may possibly make the new plant at Hinkley are currently 3 times over budget on their current french plant and the pressure vessel is just a tad leaky. It was made the same way as the one they've already made for Hinkley apparently....

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-nuclear-strategy-faces-meltdown-as-faults-are-found-in-identical-french-project-10186163.html

      3. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: White pylon

        You'll find that the VAWT resolves many of the 'dead return' issues by using more than 2 blades (the classic design just uses 2) and by curving them around 60 degrees. You don't have to build a 200m tower to connect a set of 60m blades either... But that said, VAWTs like the QR5 do have some design issues, and QuietRevolution, the company who sold the QR5, went bust because the QR5 did in fact not deliver the 5kW it was supposed to have (it delivered around 15% less), and there were some construction flaws that caused corrosion (and lots of subsequent fun with centrifugal forces). There are some buildings on the M25 (somewhere between the M3 and the M23) that have a set of QR5s installed (which sadly don't rotate because QR went bust).

        I agree that a row of QR5s on their 14m stalks would be nicer to see than one massive 60m wind turbine quietly rotating in the wind. Smaller or larger versions (QR built the QR20 too) in windy places would be less obtrusive than say a forest of big turbines (drive through Saxony in Germany sometime, you'll soon realise what I mean).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: VAWT@ anothercynic

          "I agree that a row of QR5s on their 14m stalks would be nicer to see than one massive 60m wind turbine quietly rotating in the wind"

          But unfortunately the boundary layer effects mean you'll always get less output from any wind turbine closer the ground (or even sea surface). This really mitigates against VAWT, which lends itself to smaller scale units.

          That's why the latest designs are offshore monsters HAWT up to 220m tall.

          In theory VAWT could be built offshore, but nobody's done anything at any meaningful scale, despite some tens of millions of dollars thrown at research into offshore VAWT.

        2. Chris 239
          Thumb Up

          Re: White pylon

          Thanks, I wondered why those stopped turning some time ago (can't remember when).

          Were they 5KW (-15%) apiece?

      4. Suricou Raven

        Re: White pylon

        Vertical turbines do have one advantage though: Reliability. They have one moving part. A pivoting turbine has the rotor, usually angleable blades, slip rings designed to handle the weight of generator and gearbox, more complicated lubrication that needs monitoring. They actually need servicing, a vertical rotor turbine is almost fit-and-forget. That's a big advantage in small-scale installations where you don't want the cost of on-site engineer visits.

  3. Mostly Human

    Metal tree

    Perhaps if they painted the "trunk" brown and the arms green it would blend into the countryside better than the all white version?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Metal tree

      Yep, they definitely should. Current pylons are ugly, I suppose, but they do blend in reasonably well. I hate the idea of bright white, no matter how elegant the design.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Metal tree

        "I hate the idea of bright white,"

        It's actually a light grey, and the colour is not dissimilar to the "air superiority grey" used on combat aircraft. That's chosen because the usual backdrop against which you want low visibility is the sky. Painting either pylons or military aircraft green or brown would make them stand out like a sore thumb in most viewing situations.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Metal tree

          It's actually a light grey, and the colour is not dissimilar to the "air superiority grey" used on combat aircraft. That's chosen because the usual backdrop against which you want low visibility is the sky. Painting either pylons or military aircraft green or brown would make them stand out like a sore thumb in most viewing situations.

          Tiny problem: you don't want them to be wholly invisible either in case of air traffic. One of the *major* benefits I see of the new style is that they are much smaller and thus less of an obstruction.

  4. TechnoTechno

    I don't think anyone who's a member of the "Pylon Appreciation Society" has the right to call anyone or anything else boring...

    1. Sealand
      Joke

      It's much more difficult to climb the pole-type pylons, so you have to appreciate them from the ground.

      That's why true pylon appreciators don't like that design.

    2. FartingHippo
      Boffin

      They're not bottom of the [boring] food chain by a long way

      http://www.telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.org

      1. mrfill
        Thumb Up

        Re: They're not bottom of the [boring] food chain by a long way

        or there's always the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society

        http://www.roundaboutsofbritain.com/

      2. GitMeMyShootinIrons
        Joke

        Re: They're not bottom of the [boring] food chain by a long way

        http://www.telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.org

        But I imagine their parties are great, complete with Pole Dancers....

      3. TitterYeNot

        Re: They're not bottom of the [boring] food chain by a long way

        "http://www.telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.org"

        And they even have a 'Pole of the Month'!

        "Phwoar, look at the skirts on those insulators!" Erm...

        On a more serious note, I'm guessing the light colour they're using for these new pylons will help prevent them from being infested with low flying helicopters and microlight aircraft.

        1. Alan J. Wylie

          Re: They're not bottom of the [boring] food chain by a long way

          "http://www.telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.org"

          And they even have a 'Pole of the Month'!

          There's a Pylon of the Month site too!

          1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

            Re: Re: They're not bottom of the [boring] food chain by a long way

            There's some hot pylon action in there, and no messing.

    3. h4rm0ny

      >>"I don't think anyone who's a member of the "Pylon Appreciation Society" has the right to call anyone or anything else boring..."

      You're commenting on a news story about pylon colours. Just saying...

  5. pompurin

    "they're a bit white and they're a bit boring."

    I thought this was going to be from the BBC or Guardian types. Not enough Black or Minority Ethnic pylons.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      And what about rights for Pyladies?

      1. h4rm0ny

        >>"And what about rights for Pyladies?"

        I prefer Yoga.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Coat

          Wasn't it Yoga that said, "there is no pylon. Only do, or do not."

  6. Jim Lewis

    And where is the option to bury all cables and thereby avoid any visual impact on the landscape?

    Reaplcing pylons or adding new ones is the wrong approach entirely IMHO

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      re burying

      Its a lot more expensive - and there is always the visual and logistical impact of the burying whilst its ongoing - you can pop a set of wires over a road overnight - a tunnel would be a couple of weeks of chaos.

      It may be the best option in the long run as at the moment a dozen blokes with angle grinders could reduce the national grid to the point of being unable to recover from.

    2. future research

      The problem is the real world. The overheads lines have a inductance were as underground line end up being capacitance which causes more expense at the substations to sort out.

    3. Will 30

      It's precluded by the physics, for all practical (i.e. affordable) purposes.

      HV AC underground cables require so much current to supply their capacitance that after a certain length the entire capacity of the cable is being used to supply charging current and not carry any real power - even below that limit that's a significant source of inefficiency.

      HV DC cables require very expensive terminal equipment which is justifiable for very long distances or inter-grid interconnects, but would be horribly expensive within the UK.

      Buried cables are also difficult to cool - the 400kV link through Snowdonia to Dinorwig required water cooling to be buried with it, which is another cost overhead cables don't have.

    4. Benchops

      > Burying

      Yes! Put them under the roads!

      1) No unsightly cables

      2) HEATED roads -- no icy accidents in winter

      3) Council/Gas board will ONLY dig up the road when they ABSOLUTELY have to, and then only as little area as they need to!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: > Burying

        4) Watch your bill go up

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: > Burying

          Still waiting for the superconducting cables.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: > Burying

            Still waiting for the superconducting cables.

            Just chill...

  7. Khaptain Silver badge
    Coat

    Low IQ Alternative

    Why don't we just send the electricity through the interwebs..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Low IQ Alternative

      Good idea, if they use these new high speed connections I keep getting told about, then I'll get my electricity even faster and that has to be good....

      1. billse10

        Re: Low IQ Alternative

        "Good idea, if they use these new high speed connections I keep getting told about, then I'll get my electricity even faster and that has to be good...."

        which constituency are you standing for? If that's a serious comment (yes, I know it isn't) then you're the perfect new MP .....

        on the other hand, if electricity is going along the interwebs, with the NSA and GCHQ siphoning off everything, will we get brownouts whenever someone tweets something "of interest" ?

    2. frank ly

      Re: Low IQ Alternative

      This is what happens when you skim-read PoE articles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Low IQ Alternative

        If I can do Power-over-Ethernet and Ethernet-over-Powerline, can I have perpetual motion?

    3. richardcox13

      Re: Low IQ Alternative

      There is already a standard for it: RFC 3251 "Electricity over IP", but your a couple of weeks out for that.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think we have to ask ourselves two questions

    Do we really need electricity?

    Will it affect house prices near me?

    1. FartingHippo
      Devil

      Re: I think we have to ask ourselves two questions

      You appear to be a member of the Green Party and reader of the Daily Mail. That's a veeeeeeery small intersection on the pie chart.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: I think we have to ask ourselves two questions

        @fartinghippo

        <pedant mode on>

        I think you'll find that a decent pie-chart has absolutely NO intersections.

        A Venn diagram, on the othe rhand...

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I think we have to ask ourselves two questions

          So what's the intersection of the sets of Daily Mail readers, Green party voters and people who understand set theory?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I think we have to ask ourselves two questions

            I think the answer is in your vote scores for that posts :-)

            1. FartingHippo
              Facepalm

              Re: I think we have to ask ourselves two questions

              Well bugger. I don't even have a decent excuse. I'll share a mildly amusing venn diagram as a penance.

  9. Nifty

    Where's in the design is the special provision for carrying fibre?

    All this whingeing about far flung farms having nearly no internet, yet they all seem to have pylons going through their land.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fibre

      There is/are already fibres on the National grid, it is wrapped around the top wire and they have a special little machine which runs along it to do the job. This is his the BBC gets is video and IP about (as well as other organisations)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missed an opportunity for a great photo description...

    Instead of: "Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne looking well chuffed with some of the shortlisted designs"

    How about: "Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne admires some stunning/large erections in his office"

    Or

    "Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne looks at some of the shortlisted designs that are just the ticket"

    :-)

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Missed an opportunity for a great photo description...

      How about "Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne's Wife Looks at Competition Winners"?

  11. Jonl
    Facepalm

    Dual Use

    Why not put a turbine blade on them to catch the energy from the wind.

    Oh, wait a minute, you say that's already been done?

    Doh.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Dual Use

      Might have a bit of an issue with the whirling blades and the wires.

      You could remove the wires of course, and then pack the pylons tighter together and face them into the wind rather than stringing them across the countryside.

      1. moiety

        Re: Dual Use

        You could have one of those oil drum affairs at the top. No blades required.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Dual Use

          You could fit piezoelectric transducers to each insulator which will generate electricity when the wires vibrate in the wind. They will also work the other way around and so double as loudspeakers when Big Brother wants to make a public address announcement to the whole nation.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Dual Use

            GENIUS!

            "Individual, you are charged with multiple anti-civil violations - Anticitizen status approved! Alert community ground protection units, local unrest structure detected. Assemble, administer, pacify."

            "Damn, there must be electricity pylons around here!!"

  12. Dave Parry

    Why stop at 'T'? Surely we need other letters if we're going to scatter the land with rude words - shouldn't we have started with 'E'? So long as it's not in Comic Sans...

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      T is just the first of the four new designs. Once they have all been implemented, the letters T F A R will repeat endlessly across the countryside. How's that for wind power!

  13. s. pam
    Trollface

    Think of them as a big I.U.D. and you'd not be wrong

    They look like giant birth control devices, and perhaps should be used in areas where the Green Party is particularly active

  14. JamesPond
    Alien

    "Flash Bristow"

    Sounds like someone from a 1930's cartoon, Flash Bristow and the Pylons from Mars.

    1. Lord Raa

      Re: "Flash Bristow"

      I'd commission a short series of Flash Bristow and the Pylons from Mars.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "Flash Bristow"

        ...and I'd watch it!

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: "Flash Bristow"

      They were a 60's rock and roll band. Not even a 1-hit-wonder as I recall.

  15. bpfh Silver badge
    Trollface

    You must construct additional pylons

    You must construct additional pylons

  16. smartypants

    I wish that instead of pylons...

    They announced skylons. Surely that is the future... And it'd look even better than the competition winner.

    There is the small matter of the wires, I accept...

  17. 0765794e08
    Boffin

    Pylon hacker extraordinaire!

    To my mind, the original definition of a ‘hacker’ was someone who took a great pride and passion in a particular subject, and worked exceedingly hard (for work, or pleasure, or both), to further that subject, usually creating great things in the process.

    It matters not whether the subject is model railroads, mainframes of the 60s, computer networks, or, indeed, electricity pylons. Even gardening could be considered hacking of a sort if you’re into it enough!

    I’ll admit that electricity pylons hold no interest for me, but Flash Bristow is a sparkin’ electricity pylon hacker of the highest calibre, and it’s to their credit!

  18. TonySomerset

    Not Hidden by Design

    First off, all power lines should be buried.

    Second this is an awful bad design. It looks heavy and is very static. Compare it to the narrow V design, at least that had a degree of grace. This is going to impose on the landscape, no matter what colour chosen to 'blend in'. Has anyone with any design skills looked at this!

    At least the old pylons were by design airy, light and insubstantial within the landscape.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Not Hidden by Design

      First off, all power lines should be buried.

      Only someone in charge of other people's money and bereft of knowledge of the vagaries of capacitance can say those things.

      It looks heavy and is very static

      Gb2 tweeting granny club for a beautiful spotless english landscape

  19. Michael Habel Silver badge

    No life?!

    You mean there are People out there with no life, left in them, that they have to winge on about about stupid crap like this?... Perhaps if they were the Ones directly paying 100% of this as opposed to 0.0000000001%. They might have had a point. But alas thankfully they don't!

    1. MrDamage

      Re: No life?!

      Where do you think the B Ark landed?

  20. Greg 16
    Flame

    I hate pylons

    I hate pylons with a passion. I don't care what it costs or how inefficient it is, I would vote for a political party based purely on a policy of burying the cables. And don't get me started on wind turbines!

    I'm amazed by how few people have an appreciation of the beautiful British countryside and that we allow these damn things to be planted across pretty much any and every area of the UK.

    1. Brenda McViking
      Boffin

      Re: I hate pylons

      To bury a 400kV line, you're talking 20x the cost of the overhead equivalent, and excavating a trench the size of a motorway (30m) to carry the necessary cables. They also last half the time of overhead lines, so you'll have to put up with them being replaced, and if you do get an issue with them it'll take weeks rather than hours to restore power to your home.

      Whilst thousands of people die each year because they thought it too expensive to switch the heating on, you're adovcating that we increase bills further? Or are you willing to individually pay to upgrade the 7200km of overhead lines we have here in the UK at an indicative price of £1,000,000 per kilometre? Or to put it another way, if you'd prefer to split 7.2bn between the entire UK population, it's an amount equivalent to a 25% increase in your council tax. Rather a lot for a vanity project, no?

      1. Greg 16

        Re: I hate pylons

        A one off cost of £7.2 billion for removing a blight from massive areas of the UK as well as providing a more reliable system and creating a serious number of jobs?

        Sounds like a better deal than the £20 billion cost of fitting smart meters to every UK home. Or the 30-40% added to every customers energy bill due to the various "green" schemes such as burning trees imported from the US, or the ludicrous wind turbine subsidies, or the fields of diesel generators paid to back up the wind turbines.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: I hate pylons

          A one off cost of £7.2 billion for removing a blight from massive areas of the UK as well as providing a more reliable system and creating a serious number of jobs?

          Fail at economics. Hoovering up £7.2 billion via taxes, immediate or deferred, does not create jobs. It destroys them.

          1. Greg 16

            Re: I hate pylons

            And what does economic theory say about digging holes and filling them in again?

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I hate pylons

        Why excavate a trench - just use the road surface.

        A copper coating on each lane and a small gap between them, it's a thin coating so no surface effect worries and it will cool well.

        The cars will have no issue with their rubber tires, neither will people walking along the roadway so long as they don't step over the lanes. It will also have a beneficial effect of reducing idiots walking across the road.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          You forgot the slot

          Gotta have a slot!

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: You forgot the slot

            Shhh Don'y tell anybody - I'm still patenting the Tesla Scalextric.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: I hate pylons

      "I'm amazed by how few people have an appreciation of the beautiful British countryside and that we allow these damn things to be planted across pretty much any and every area of the UK."

      What's your view on all the houses blighting our view of the beautiful British countryside? Surely they are far more intrusive than a few skinny pylons?

      1. Greg 16

        Re: I hate pylons

        It's extremely difficult to build on green built nowadays, despite our desperate need for housing. Strangely the 'environmentalists' actively encourage wind turbines and the transmission lines required, which are often in the most beautiful areas of the country and yet they cry if a new housing estate is built on the edge of a town as 'it's destroying beautiful countryside'.

        With some housing I would support a system of offset, where areas such as the Welsh valleys are 'depopulated' (I'm thinking rehoused, not gas chambers!) and new housing built in areas where they are needed and where they are jobs, even if it is greenbelt.

        Going back to pylons, if it keeps the pylon fanatics happy I'd even go so far as to say that 25-50% of the total pylons could stay, for example in heavily industrialised areas. But across a ridge line in open countryside? No thanks.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I hate pylons

          True environmentalists would welcome pylons and wind turbines while objecting to housing estates.

          Pylons and wind turbines have very little impact on the countryside - they only spoil the view for townies out for a nice weekend.

          Concreting over miles of countryside to build houses, then roads, then business parks, then shopping centers, then relief roads to reduce pressure on the roads because of the shopping centers, then drainage projects and river embankments to stop flooding of the nice houses .. etc etc have a slightly larger impact.

  21. RikC

    Electric field?

    In 2009 the started erecting these fancy new "Wintrack' pylons here in the Netherlands. They also quite futuristic and as a big benefit they reduce the electric field around the pylons significantly (the graphs in the link below illustrate this) as a result of their design, which was the main criterion. I was wondering if the design of the T-pylons also takes this into consideration?

    http://www.inmr.com/dutch-grid-operator-extends-use-new-transmission-line-design/

    1. Toltec

      Re: Electric field?

      How refreshing that something designed by engineers is not only more efficient, but more attractive than what an architect produces.

      The T design looks like it should have a railway line running underneath it, whereas the Wintrack is begging for a Jacob's ladder!

    2. skeptical i
      Thumb Up

      Re: Electric field?

      Hi, RikC: Nice article, I trust you also read this one -- http://www.inmr.com/finding-solutions-make-overhead-lines-accepted-public -- linked therefrom? Not all the designs do it for me, but at least someone is flexing some creativity.

  22. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    "...range of fetching colours including weathered metal."

    Bell Canada built a microwave tower at Pharmacy and Eglinton in Scarborough many years ago. The 'weathering' depends on pollutants in the air.

    Unfortunately, it was around this time the Ontario government introduced pollution reducing legislation and the Bell monster took much, much, longer to weather than planned. It also developed multi-hued colours as it failed to weather as fast as hoped.

    Now it looks just like a rusty erection, outdated by fibre optic cable. But the ice dropping from it sure dissuades people from parking under ot!

  23. Jim 59

    The old tower looks like a very strong structure. The new one looks like a weak structure, and the cables seem to be much closer together. They've done all the tests, right ? Remember that Open University programme where they built some towers in a quarry then chopped a wire to see how they would withstand big twisting forces ? They they used a machine to pull one cable until a tower fractured ?

    They've done all that right ?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Well they have done a nicely rendered model of how they will look in the countryside - the rest is just implementation details.

      Strangely I can't find the link to the kickstarter project to pay for them, perhaps the digital czar hasn't logged in yet today.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The old tower looks like a very strong structure.

      What got me about the National Grid erection picture was the kit being used to erect one of these new pylons and the size of the ground disturbance footprint - I suspect the new one leg pylon requires much more substantial foundations than the old four legged ones. So whilst they may visually have a lower profile, their erection could be much more damaging to the land...

  24. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Question

    Are these the same people who used to call themselves "The National Clothesline Appreciation Society"??

    I would be interested in reading a copy of the charter and what the leadership's credentials were. How DOES one become and expert on pylons and their applications and WHY in the world would anyone outside of a mental institution desire to create such a 'Society'.

    P.S.

    I rather like the captioned design

    1. Jim 59

      Re: Question

      @Howard Hanek are you a bot ?

      You sound a bit like amanfrommars after he has calmed down a bit.

  25. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    the band will feel left out

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pylon_%28band%29

  26. Mark 85 Silver badge

    FFS...

    It's a power pylon not a work of art. Those snatches of quotes from the article seem to be from those who profited (cash or prestige) from the design process.

  27. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Stop!

    These should be banned on health and safety grounds.

    In a sudden thunderstorm the safest place you can be is right in the centre of a conventional pylons feet. The new ones would be the worst place to be.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Stop!

      Errr... what? Maybe, but you better stand on on foot for the duration. The voltage differences across your crotch may be painful otherwise.

  28. A Ghost
    Mushroom

    Snap, crackle and pop

    Funny you should mention that, I've just read the whole thread and this is the first time someone has brought this up. I assume you mean Faraday cage effect. Makes sense.

    I remember walking home with a friend through some fields and getting lost, and we had to traverse some kilometres of the things - they just kept going for ages. There was a slight fine mist in the air, 99 percent humidity I should imagine. Anyway, the things above were sizzling and frazzling and you kind of half expected a little mini lightning bolt to spark off one of them at any moment.

    It sort of felt like your hair was on end as well. And your body had this funny buzz to it. Mind you, we had just been to a 'music festival', with everything that entails, so we probably just imagined it. Then again, I used to live around the big buggers when we were kids and was often out in that kind of weather (not raining but very damp), and remember a similar sort of feeling.

    So, my question is, were we imagining it? Is it possible that some kind of 'static' electricity buildup transferred through the damp air to our bodies/brains? It always feels pretty menacing to just be a few feet away from these monsters, but they really come alive in those sort of foggy misty conditions.

    They say that there are clusters of cancers around areas where they populate built up areas. I've no idea if that is myth or if there is any science to it.

    Anyway, I'm with you Will Godfrey. We could set up our own society - P.A.R.P - People Against Redesigning Pylons. Or maybe P.A.R.P.E.R. - People Against Redesigning Pylons (Electrostatic Reasons). What about C.R.A.P. ? - that's pretty snappy - Community Resistance Against Pylons.

    I'll stop now.

    1. no-one in particular

      Re: Snap, crackle and pop

      > They say that there are clusters of cancers around areas where they populate built up areas.

      > I've no idea if that is myth or if there is any science to it.

      According to the account in "Voodoo Science" by Robert Park there is a definite lack of science to that.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Snap, crackle and pop

        No, it's bullshit and after having covered in fear of the microwave oven, the ElectroCrowd has moved on to demonized "pulsed" energy from mobiles and Wifi "pollution".

        This reminds me of a story from Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction magazine from the early 80s where a kid takes refuge from his abusive father near HV overland lines (his dad can't pursue him there because of a pacemaker). He then acquires the paranormal capability to smell other people's (and animals') emotions.

        Well, HV lines were new back then, I imagine.

  29. A Ghost
    Alert

    Ah, Coronal discharges

    causing ionization and arcing and that unmistakable smell of ozone.

    Which leads me to think, it might be a very safe place to be in a thunder storm (in the middle of the pylon), but in fog or rain conditions (walking just outside them and around them), maybe not so much. What if it was raining _and_ there was a thunder storm? I assume the safest place to be would still be inside. What have you got to lose?

    ------------------------------------

    When an electrical transmission line is energized, the air surrounding the conductors is subjected to di-electric stress. At low voltage, nothing really occurs as the stress is too low to ionize the air outside. But when the voltage gradient around a conductor is higher than some threshold value, the air surrounding it experiences stress high enough to be dissociated into ions, making the atmosphere conducting. This results in electric discharge around the conductors due to the flow of these ions, giving rise to a faint luminescent glow, along with the hissing sound accompanied by the liberation of ozone, which is readily identified due to its characteristic odor. If the voltage across the lines is still increased the glow becomes more and more intense along with hissing noise, inducing very high power loss into the system.

    -------------------------------------

    Nothing that a niftly little Faraday Suit wouldn't cure though.

    As for the ill effects on health in populated areas:

    --------------------------------------------------

    Coronas can generate audible and radio-frequency noise, particularly near electric power transmission lines. They also represent a power loss, and their action on atmospheric particulates, along with associated ozone and NOx production, can also be disadvantageous to human health where power lines run through built-up areas. Therefore, power transmission equipment is designed to minimise the formation of corona discharge.

    -----------------------------------------------

    And I guess I wasn't wrong about the little mini thunderbolts (lightning) either - Lightning is a naturally occurring electrical arc (again according to wikipedia).

    This stuff is quite fun. I think I might go and join that organisation after all.

  30. I am replete.

    Watch the rugby on tv. A player has the ball and is awaiting an inevitable tackle. His legs are apart and as firmly planted as he can manage. When the charge comes, depending upon the individuals, the ballplayer either remains standing, or falls. Now, suppose he decided to resist the charge by standing as firmly as he could but feet close together.

    As the cartoon writers say SPLAT!!!!

    The existing pylons have spread legs, on the whole they resist the charges very well.

    I rest my case.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Maybe we should just stop rugby players charging at pylons?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Because there are no female sockets accepting the rugby players' bits?

  31. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Shorter, eh? Short enough for those people who point fluorescent tubes at the wires to make some sort of treehugger point might actually touch the wires?

    I would have thought the lattice design was easier to put up on England's green and rolling hills but that's just me.

    No doubt the country will look spiffy with its new infestation of Bang and Olufson pylons.

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