After two pylonless months, July's pylon comes all the way from the hills outside Wellington, New Zealand. The picture was taken looking south with the Makara wind farm in the distance and beyond that the South Island, with the Cook Strait in between. Whenever I think about New Zealand, a couple of things spring to mind. The first is a piece of music called Land of the Long White Cloud by Philip Sparke that I played many years ago with Besses o' th' Barn brass band. I don't remember many pieces I played nearly forty years ago so something about it must have been special. You can hear it being played at the 2022 European Brass Band Championship. The second is an exchange between Queen Elizabeth and her equerry, Sir Kevin in Alan Bennett's novella, The Uncommon Reader:
"New Zealand, that land of sheep and Sunday afternoons….If one wanted to pass the time one would go to New Zealand".
I think it was meant as a gentle dig at New Zealand, but it's a country that is high up my list of places to visit and as my wife is a big rugby fan and has relatives there, she wouldn't take much persuading as long as we went during the rugby season.
Anyway, back to the pylon. It was emailed in by a fan of the blog who has been involved in the electricity industry for 30 years so the email was packed full of interesting links. The very first electricity generated in New Zealand was in 1888 and it was from a hydroelectric power plant in Reefton that supplied the inhabitants of the town at a cost of £3 per year for every light in the house. Today, around 90% of New Zealand's electricity is from renewable sources, and in the words of this month's pylon provider "Despite being a long stringy network, over difficult, mountainous, earthquake-prone terrain, and exposed to extremes of weather New Zealand enjoys a highly resilient and reliable transmission system". It also includes an HVDC cable that links the North and South Islands and although HVDC was being used for various projects from about 1954, the construction of the inter-island link from 1961-65 made it fairly cutting edge in technological terms. An interesting historical footnote is that the cables used for the link were made by a company, British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC), that played a significant role in the construction of the British National Grid.
I'm resolved not to miss any more months this year, so although that's all I've got for now, I'll be back again soon!