Converter stations are required in both the UK and France to convert electricity from DC to AC. AC is used for transmitting electricity in the UK and France’s electricity grids, while DC is used for sending electricity along the subsea and underground cables because it is more efficient over large distances.
Lovedean in Hampshire was identified as the optimal location for the UK converter station, taking into account a number of factors, including the capacity of the existing network.
The converter station site will comprise a mix of buildings and outdoor electrical equipment, with the outdoor equipment being similar in nature to the equipment at the neighbouring Lovedean substation. The building roof line will vary in height, but will be approximately 22m at its peak. The design and layout of the converter station will be finalised in due course. It is anticipated that approximately 6-9 hectares of land will be procured for the converter stations in each country – this includes the areas designated for the converter station buildings, outdoor electrical equipment and any screening required.
Work is being carried out to understand any environmental constraints (including ecological, landscape and heritage features), and develop appropriate mitigation.
There are significant benefits in situating a converter station as close as possible to a substation. The AC cables used to connect HVDC converter stations to AC substations require more footprint and cause more disruption during the installation. AC cables also have higher transmission losses and pose other technical challenges.
Mitigation measures will be considered to reduce the landscape, visual and ecological effects of the converter station, while also create positive new habitats. Measures which will be considered will include:
- Integrating the development and associated infrastructure into the surrounding topography
- Working with the shape of the land and making positive use of material arising from the works to create new screening landform and reduce the apparent height of the building
- Minimising the loss of existing vegetation of ecological value (particularly long-established hedgerows and veteran trees)
- Introducing new planting which is sympathetic to the surrounding landscape character and reflective of native species
- Considering height, mass, colour, texture and nature of materials for the buildings and associated infrastructure which is sensitive to the immediate surroundings