Britain's new electricity 'T-pylons' carry power with style

Electricity pylons might be a vital part of the UK's power infrastructure, but they sure ain't the prettiest of things, especially when towering over otherwise unspoiled countryside. Their design hasn't changed in nearly a century, but soon you could start seeing a new, much sleeker type of pylon dotting the landscape. Winner of a 2011 competition seeking fresh and more attractive designs, the "T-pylon" is a far cry from our familiar steel lattice structures, with a lone trunk sprouting two arms that support power cables in a diamond arrangement. Ahead of going into formal use, the construction of the first T-pylon test site is now underway at the National Grid's training academy in rural Nottinghamshire. They're not designed to replace what we have already, but will serve as another option in areas where its looks and smaller footprint "can offer real advantages."

The idea is they'll primarily be used in the creation of new lines carrying power from modern energy-harvesting sites like solar and wind farms. And because T-pylons are more attractive and significantly shorter than traditional towers, they'll hopefully be considered less of an eyesore. The National Grid didn't warm to the T-pylon design just because it's better looking, though. They take much less time and manpower to erect, as well as requiring minimal maintenance. Furthermore, being supported by a single trunk means they can be built in areas where the flow of the land isn't amenable to their four-legged brethren.