Project Planning

It is important that the planning applications for cable routes and substations are competent and cover out a reasonable worst case of what may be needed for the project.

Xero Energy provides technical assistance for planning and consents workstreams. We provide conceptual layouts of onshore and offshore substations – from large transmission voltage (including HVDC) down to small distribution voltage projects. From this, we can determine maximum overall footprint and height for the substation and other key environmental data such as largest and heaviest items of plant. This feeds into the substation siting process and is used as the basis of the visual impact part of the planning application.

Cable route planning and substation siting

For project substation siting assessments, we offer several types of studies, starting with preliminary desktop studies with consideration of the Horlock Rules, and continuing with site visits and more detailed engineering work. We can liaise with the Transmission or Distribution Owner to negotiate the electrical and civil engineering aspects of the connection interface.

We offer cable route planning services ranging from preliminary desktop studies, detailed cable thermal ratings, cost assessments, and site walkovers right through to detailed Red Line Development Boundary work. We work well in conjunction with environmental specialists and land agents to identify all possible cable corridors, then home in on a solution which is economical for the project and feasible in terms of engineering and consents. For offshore projects we extend the work to the offshore route and landfalls.

Substation siting is often integrated with cable route planning and Red Line Development Boundary mapping services.


We offer other types of documentation and consultation to assist with planning and consents. This includes:

  • Project electrical design statements (PDS or PEDS).
  • Electrical and civil engineering support for cable and substation works.
  • Advice on compliance with onshore and offshore electrical, civil and environmental requirements.
  • Supporting work such as estimates of vehicle movements, excavated volumes, spoil removed from site and imported material, lists of potential substation hazardous materials (onshore and offshore) and mitigation.
  • Decommissioning plans.


Technical drawings, 3D visualisations and mapping

We can provide three-dimensional visualisation services for onshore and offshore substations, other types of buildings, as well as specific electrical plant. We often use visualisation tools to troubleshoot civil engineering issues – for instance, how a new power cable could be installed in the road where other underground services are present. We use Autodesk® Inventor LT™ and Autodesk® 3ds Max® software and can provide completed models in *.3ds or *.max formats to feed into photomontages and terrain models. We can also provide terrain modelling services to deliver a complete image of what your finished project will look like.


In addition to 3D visual images, we can provide high quality, fully dimensioned engineering drawings. We use AutoCAD® Mechanical software and follow technical drawing standards and general good practice techniques. We can export drawings as PDFs with interactive layers to support planning and consents work.

The Geographic Information System (GIS) is a useful method for storing, analysing and presenting geographical data during planning, as it can capture the process of selecting a cable route (e.g. onshore, offshore and landfall) and a substation site. We use Esri ArcGIS® software and a variety of mapping sources such as the range offered through Ordnance Survey®. We are adept at producing Red Line Development Boundary (RLDB) maps (see above) for planning applications.

Case Studies:

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