Overhead Line Crossings of Broad Rivers and Straits
Overhead line crossings of broad rivers and of straits, if the terrain on both sides is relatively even, frequently consist of four pylons: two particularly substantial anchor pylons for bracing the conductors of the crossing section, and two tall carrying masts to keep the line high over the water. These pylons have broader cross-bars and greater distances between the cross-bars than the other pylons of the line, in order to prevent the conductor cables from striking against each other during strong winds. In contrast to normal pylons, the two carrying masts at both ends of the crossing are frequently equipped with flight safety lamps, and have stairways for easy access to the top.
Overhead line crossings of rivers and straits with spans of over 2 km are frequently prohibitively expensive to build and operate; because of the danger of wind-induced oscillatory movements of the conductor cables, it is necessary either to install very large leader distances or to mount insulators between the conductors in the area of the span. Bundle conductors, which are used for almost all extra-high voltage lines, are more susceptible to oscillations from wind forces than single conductors. Therefore single conductors must be used for the crossing section, which means the crossing section of the power line determines the maximum transmittable power.
Further, one cannot build pylons arbitrarily high at either end of the crossing section, and there is a usually a considerable minimum height because of ships crossing under the line, so there is often a high mechanical tension in the conductors at long spans. This tension requires conductors made largely of steel, which have a worse electrical conductivity than the common overhead line conductors consisting of copper, Aldrey or aluminum-encased steel, and also limits the amount of transmittable electrical power. For this reason, for crossings with a span width of more than approximately 2 km, those in charge of construction should consider laying an underwater cable as the more practicable solution.
Alternatively, it might be possible to erect one or more pylons in the water to be crossed. Such crossings can be seen occasionally in North America. They are, however, only used when it is more economical and practical to do so than to lay a cable underwater, such as when the water is not very deep and no large passage heights are needed for vessels. Also, such construction can be very problematic as far as getting legal permission to build, because pylons standing in the water are likely to be considered dangerous obstacles for ships, especially in foggy conditions.
In some cases on bridges small crossing a wider waterway pylons or crossbars for the conductors can be mounted. Such a solution, which may lead to safety problems at bridge maintenance, was for example realized at the Danish Storstrøm Bridge.
It is quite likely that overhead line crossings of broad waters can be replaced with underwater cables. The overhead line crossing the Strait of Messina — which, with a span of 3646 meters, was one of the longest overhead line crossings in the world, with 200-meter pylons among the highest in the world — was replaced by a submarine cable, because of its small maximum transmittable electrical power.
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