If there’s one segment of the energy sector that you’d think might be beyond significant technological innovation, it would be power transmission poles.
And you’d be wrong!
As profiled in a recent article in The Economist a novel transmission tower design called the Wintrack pylon has been co-developed by TenneT, the operator of the Dutch electricity grid, and KEMA, a consulting and engineering firm.
Although beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, the Wintrack is arguably much more attractive than the traditional lattice tower structures seen maligning the landscapes of the world.
More important than cosmetics, by virtue of the architecture of its physical design, the Wintrack produces much smaller ambient magnetic fields than what emanate from conventional transmission towers. These magnetic fields create the buzz and static that can often be heard from high-voltage lines — and form the basis for fears (founded or otherwise) about suspected human health effects due to electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation from power lines.
Between its aesthetic and magnetic benefits, the Wintrack pylon might, just might, make it incrementally a bit easier to site new transmission lines, which in turn would help alleviate grid-constrained load centers and debottleneck access to areas of abundant solar and wind energy resources that tend to be far removed from populated areas.