Deadline looms to ‘engage’ with power lines megaproject

Contractors have only nine days left to join procurement discussions for a megaproject to build more than 1,000km of underground and overhead power lines.

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) published a market engagement document late last week for its New Infrastructure Delivery Onshore Programme (NIDOP).

The package of works will see a number of major power circuits created in the UK to facilitate the move towards net-zero carbon.

National Grid set a 20 January deadline for contractors to give feedback on procurement plans for the huge project. It warned that responding to the proposals was critical for firms looking to take part in further engagement before the contracts come to market.

“Please note that invitations to, and information on, future related market engagement events or activities may be provided only to those persons who have registered by responding to the market engagement document,” said an official notice. “No further notice of those subsequent events or activities will be given to the wider market.”

National Grid kicked off its pre-procurement activity in earnest this month after Ofgem published its decision on the acceleration of onshore electricity transmission investment shortly before Christmas.

The regulator said its Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment regulatory framework would initially apply to almost £20bn of investment in the onshore transmission network – with the “potential for further investment in the future”.

National Grid said the “scale and complexity” of the infrastructure required for the NIDOP meant it needed to review its current approach to engaging and contracting with the supply chain.

It added that it is “developing a more collaborative delivery model that incorporates relevant Project 13 principles, where NGET and supply chain experts will work together to influence solutions and increase efficiency and predictability to deliver the government’s desired outcomes”.

Project 13 is an Institution of Civil Engineers policy that seeks to make procurement collaborative rather than transactional.

“The size and scale of this challenge is significant, the size and scale of the opportunity equally so,” added the market engagement document. “We are now taking our first steps towards securing the right partners. They will be aligned with NGET strategically and culturally, have the core capability we need, but will also be transformative enough to be able to deliver on this ambition.”

National Grid said five-times more electricity transmission infrastructure was needed between now and 2030 than was delivered in the previous three decades.

“The global race to rapidly expand clean energy infrastructure and respond to the current energy crisis creates significant competition for supply chain resources and skills,” it added.

A formal contract notice for the NIDOP work is expected in February.

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