Sector-specific experience and adaptability were needed when long term partner Linxon asked WCS to provide construction stage support for their extension to the Bicker Fen 400/132kV substation in Boston, Lincolnshire. Challenging programmes were required so that ongoing construction would not be affected.
Bicker Fen Substation
Beginning in late 2018, substantial extension was needed to this existing facility, originally designed to support the relatively small (26 MW) Bicker Fen onshore wind farm. Two additional purposes have been identified for the substation which necessitated its extension:
- Viking Link, the 1,400 MW HVDC submarine cable connecting the UK to Denmark
- Triton Knoll, a new 857 MW offshore wind farm
National Grid operate the substation. Linxon, who won the contract to undertake the work required at Bicker Fen, asked WCS onboard in December of 2021 to provide ongoing civil engineering consultancy support throughout the construction phase of this challenging project.
Adapting an existing substation design
Our first task was to provide additional design for the new and upgraded back-up diesel generator and undertake checks on the existing foundations. This involved providing new design drawings and structural calculations. As part of the ongoing support, WCS then provided consultation as was needed across a host of civil engineering matters related to aspects of the works.
Other elements of the civils construction design WCS were required to contribute to included:
- Providing a new specification for testing of screw piles used for equipment foundations throughout the site to ensure compliance with National Grid requirements.
- Additional duct and trough work to contain High Voltage (HV) cable routes.
- Checks on lighting mast foundations for updated specifications and positions.
- The extension meant existing fencing had to be moved, and where possible, the client asked for the reuse of the materials in the new fencing. The design was updated accordingly to make sure the elements matched, replotting areas to account for the changes to HV cable ducting.
- Analysing and checking the design for revised equipment bases to ensure robustness and fit with the screw-pile caps.
“When working on a project with construction underway, changes in one area will have implications for other aspects already in place, as we saw with the HV ducts and fencing,” explained Matthew Smith, Associate at WCS, “but we were able to bring our experience to bear on it. Buildability is always central to our approach at WCS. The additional challenge of the construction phase is that all new or revised designs must take into account the work already done, but still always provide the most robust engineering solution. Here the challenge was to determine the most cost-effective option with the least intervention and the most use of what was already in place. Often, we were quickly able to confirm the viability of a solution the client already had in mind or provide suitable alternatives for review and design.”
Taking on an additional challenge during construction
In the summer of last year, while works were ongoing, WCS was asked to expand our remit to include a comprehensive review of documentation related to a host of civils activities undertaken during the project as part of our client’s due diligence processes.
This work was undertaken concurrent with the ongoing design support, and included the detailed review of:
- Excavations, including WCS undertaking our own 3D cut fill analysis based on construction information and surveys
- Screw piles and equipment foundations across the whole project
- Trolley access paths
- Low Voltage (LV) cable and earthing relocations
- Foundation works to bus coupler blockhouses
- CDM Compound works
WCS brings a depth of experience and broad technical knowledge
“I think Linxon turned to us because they had worked with us before on several successful projects, but also because they knew we were very familiar with National Grid codes and standards. We were the specialist they needed to resolve issues quickly,” said Matthew.
For a medium-sized consultancy, WCS has an exceptional breadth of experience across the team, with the array of technical capabilities required for this project, including an in-house CAD & BIM team with a cutting-edge skillset. This is combined with sector-specific knowledge and the ability to mobilise quickly in every instance.
Our design work on Bicker Fen was finished earlier this year. “We are very happy to have supported the client to keep the project moving, and through to a successful conclusion. Our relationship with Linxon continues, with WCS being asked to join several projects since,” says Matthew. “In this case, I think what the client valued most was an agile approach and the versatility our team were able to offer.”
If you need a civil engineering consultant, WCS would be delighted to help, even working with others’ initial design. To get in touch with the team, please call +44(0)20 3581 7847 or email email@example.com.