Heathrow: the electrical power behind one of the world’s major airports
As strategic energy infrastructure partner, we own, operate maintain and develop Heathrow’s electrical network, which spans more than 1,227 hectares across West London. We play a critical role in operations and sustainability: keeping the airport running smoothly and supporting its drive to lower emissions.
Heathrow Airport is a high profile, fast moving, customer-focussed environment at the heart of the UK’s national infrastructure. It’s the second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic and supports 114,000 local jobs. Its five terminals and two runways span cover an area large enough that the entire City of London – including the Tower of London, St Paul’s, and the Gherkin – could fit inside the site four times over
Our role is to ensure the airport continuous to deliver a world class service to over 80 million passengers per year, while helping it build towards a more sustainable future.
Security and reliability of electricity is essential for all airports. Heathrow is no exception. Even an interruption of a few seconds could have a knock-on effect on baggage systems and cargo shipments. This could take many hours to resolve and lead to significant lost revenue and passenger disruption. Resilient power is also vital to the entire airport community: including passenger transport services, employees’ facilities, freight and cargo operators, passenger retail or restaurants, emergency services, rail links, and airlines themselves.
Providing 24/7/365 resilient power to a global transport hub requires continuous innovation and dedication. This means around-the-clock maintenance, repairs, and renewals to thousands of high voltage electrical substations, transformers, relays, and more than 600km of cables.
We’re also supporting Heathrow to achieve its ‘Heathrow 2.0’ Sustainability Vision, which aims to lead the industry in the shift towards a sustainable future. Our dedicated environmental continues to work closely with the airport to develop a strategy with measurable targets in lowering carbon emissions, growing electric vehicle use, achieving Carbon Trust accreditation, and improving energy efficiency.
Approach and innovation
As strategic energy infrastructure partner, our approach has been to work with Heathrow to deliver world-class performance every single day. The faultless maintenance of critical energy infrastructure of this scale and density is vitally important: the risks to people, property and businesses from electricity cannot be understated if not managed correctly.
Each year approximately 5,000 maintenance tasks are planned to ensure the effective operation and maintenance of the network. We continually plan and collaborate with Heathrow to ensure smooth and efficient delivery of our services in conjunction with the airport’s main engineering control centre. Our on-site team are trained, assessed, and authorised by us to operate to the highest operational and safety standards.
Delivery and collaboration
Over the last five years we have developed strategic plans to accommodate Heathrow’s major runway expansion project, enabling a growth in the overall network while guaranteeing greater resilience and efficiency. At the same time, we have delivered many other major and minor projects to improve passengers’ experience, including significant works to Terminals 2, 3, and 4.
Our work includes:
Delivering asset inspection, maintenance, and replacement
Asset management strategy and planning
Network modelling, investment, and development planning
Connection management, including of new generation sources
Emergency generation provision
Technical training of Heathrow staff
Monitoring, reporting, and implementing environmental compliance procedures
Network contingency planning
We’re particularly proud of our safety and sustainability performance at Heathrow: we’ve achieved more than nine years without a lost time injury, including both staff and contractors. Furthermore, we’ve supported the airport to continually improve on its Heathrow 2.0 vision, helping the airport become the only airport in the world to achieve Carbon Trust Level 3 Accreditation in 2020.
Our work to provide a more efficient system is paying off: despite an ever-increasing number of passengers and continued expansion, Heathrow saw a 20% reduction in total energy use between 2014 and 2019. This, in part, is down to our continued investment in more efficient assets, including replacing the airports’ street lighting with new LEDs in 2018.