National Grid COP26 Champion cycles London to Glasgow via Capenhurst

David Welling, a COP26 Champion who works in Data Centre Network & Security at National Grid, is cycling over 1000km across seven days from London to Glasgow ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

Yesterday, Wednesday 27 October, David stopped off for a breather and a chat with at the National Grid Capenhurst Substation.

Starting his journey on Monday 25 October, David will visit key sites along the route which are making a significant contribution to the UK’s climate ambitions. These projects demonstrate how National Grid is getting the energy system to net zero. He’ll arrive in Glasgow on 31 October, just as world leaders gather for the global summit.

David got into cycling about two years but started his training three months ago, with a focus on endurance. He has cycled around 300-400km a week, with a few short rides in the week and two 100km rides at the weekend.

David told us that he had an idea that he could showcase some of the activities that the National Grid was doing regarding how they’re reducing their carbon footprint and working towards net zero. He said, “I thought we could do that in the run-up to COP26. I thought a good way of doing that would be to visit various different sites and projects that were carrying out different works to get us to net zero.

“And then I thought, well, we’re gonna visit all those sites and a good way of doing it environmentally, lining up with COP26, would be to cycle. It sounded like a good idea at the time!”

And from that thought, his idea turned into a 1000 kilometre, seven-day bike ride visiting 10 National Grid sites. “So I thought if I’m going to do all that, I’m going to raise some money for charity.”

One of National Grid’s charity partners that David is raising money for is ‘The Conservation Volunteers ‘ (TCV) who do some fantastic conservation work throughout the UK.

A 1000km cycle ride isn’t without its logistical challenges, “I’ve got two fabulous support team members, Matt and Daisy, and they’re driving EVs so that we’re reducing the impact of what we’re doing. It’s an awfully long way to cycle and there is an element of risk around cycling. We wanted to make sure that that I was supervised and if anything happened, there was a team close by”, David explained. “I couldn’t do without them, especially in the timescales that we’re doing it in.”

The reason David visited Capenhurst is that the National Grid is installing Europe’s largest transmission scale battery at the site. This is simply a huge battery bank that can store electricity produced by solar panels and wind turbines, for use when required.

Some people argue that if it isn’t windy, what good are wind turbines, or if it isn’t daytime what good are solar panels? David explains, “This is the gap that everyone talks about. They always say there’s a gap between renewables and delivery. And this reaches that gap because whenever it’s sunny, we’re charging the battery. Whenever it’s windy, we’re charging the battery.

“So those peaks that are predictable in the evening when you turn your kettle on for a cup of tea. Well, that can now be from wind or solar, via the battery, even if it’s not sunny or windy.”

The transmission battery will remove a million tonnes of carbon from the equation over the next 15 years, “That’s simply fossil fuel savings because we are able to use renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels.”, David concludes.

David Welling with his trusty steed seen with the two support vehicles parked with other EVs at Capenhurst.

David’s cycle challenge takes in the following stops:

Day one – Monday 25 October: National Grid offices at The Strand in London to London Power Tunnels to the National Grid Electricity System Operator National Control Centre, Wokingham. 127km of cycling, around 5.5 hours in the saddle.

Day two – Tuesday 26 October: National Grid House, Warwick, to Western Power Distribution, Tipton. 169km of cycling, around 8 hours in the saddle.

Day three – Wednesday 27 October: Capenhurst substation, Cheshire. 163km of cycling, around 7 hours in the saddle.

Day four – Thursday 28 October: Peak District Visual Impact Provision, Dunford Bridge to the Skelton
Grange environmental education centre. 159km of cycling, around 8 hours in the saddle.

Day five – Friday 29 October: SmartValve substation, Saltholme to the North Sea Link interconnector, Blyth. 139km of cycling, around 6 hours in the saddle.

Day six – Saturday 30 October: The National Grid FutureGrid hydrogen testing facility, Spadeadam, Cumbria. 156km of cycling, around 7 hours in the saddle.

Day seven – Sunday 31 October: COP26, Glasgow. 91km of cycling, around 4 hours in the saddle.

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