iX Challenge: Low Carbon Alternatives to Standby Generators in Electrical Substations

Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks Transmission (SSEN-T), the owner of north Scotland’s high voltage electricity assets, is looking to engage innovators which can provide solutions for greener alternatives to diesel generators for emergency supply in electrical substations.

Opportunity Details


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Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to pitch their innovation to SSEN-T. Selected solution(s) will be trialled in pilot studies at SSEN-T sites, with the possibility of further adoption upon successful trials.

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Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks Transmission (SSEN-T) is the owner of the high voltage electricity assets in the north of Scotland.  In their substations, SSEN-T use generators for emergency supply when the main and reserve supplies to the Low Voltage Alternating Current (LVAC) switchboard have failed.

These generators are powered by diesel and are designed to run continuously for up to 120 hours. They have energy output ratings which range from 80kVA to 1000kVA. The generators provide standby support only and therefore do not operate daily, often not operating for months or years, other than the test operation performed quarterly for a period of up to 1hr.

SSEN-T have 65 standby generators in the substations within its network, some of which are in remote locations and are typically unstaffed.  Additionally, approximately 70 additional standby generators are scheduled to be installed within the RIIO-T2 period (2021 to 2026).

SSEN-T aims to achieve a 30% reduction in its operational carbon emissions by 2025-26. The generators used on their network for standby support and construction activities currently contribute 2% of carbon emissions. In order to meet its carbon reduction target, SSEN-T must decrease their carbon emissions from the use of fossil fuel generators and switch to lower carbon alternatives.

The Challenge

SSEN-T invites innovators to present their solutions for low carbon alternatives to diesel-powered substation generators.

Suppliers should outline their solutions e.g., design, components involved, standard sizes (footprint & power capacity) etc. and demonstrate how they meet the requirements presented below.

It is essential that the solutions proposed can demonstrate that alternative approaches can be installed and left unmanned without compromising the generation capacity of the system they are replacing.

Functional Requirements

The solution should:

  • Be designed to run continuously for a period of 120 hours.
  • Have a service life of at least 40 years. If projected lifetime is less than 40 years, it should be shown that the solution remains cost competitive when factoring in more frequent replacement.
  • Be capable of self-starting after remaining unused between routine maintenance testing (1 hour run time per quarter).
  • Provide a power supply between 80 kVA and 1000 kVA, or greater.
  • Provide a quality of power supply at the incomer for LVAC board that is not outside -6 to +10% (design shall account for losses in cables connected between the generator and the LVAC switchboard). Output power shall comply with ENA ER G5/5 for harmonic requirements.
  • Have a start-up time of less than 5 minutes. An ideal start up time is less than 30 seconds.
  • Be capable of interfacing with SSEN-T SCADA control.
  • Preferably not be larger than a standard 8 x 8.5 x 40ft shipping container (however this is not an absolute limit)
  • Be capable of operating between -25 and 40°C
  • Have a noise output of less than 65 dBA at 7m distance

The following solutions will not be considered:

  • Modifications to existing diesel generators
  • Diesel fuel additives or conditioners

The supplier should:

  • Have arrangements for any required periodic maintenance to be undertaken at SSEN-T sites (North Scotland).
  • Have a design and spares strategy for maintaining over 97% availability.
  • Have provision for workforce/maintenance operator training to be able to use the proposed solution.
  • Ideally, have the capability to supply c.a. 5 units per year, and provide any replacements where necessary.


Entrants to this competition must be established businesses, start-ups, SMEs, academics or individual entrepreneurs, who are UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base. Partnerships and consortia of organisations are welcome to apply to this competition.

If you feel you can only address part of this challenge, please apply and clearly state which aspects of the challenge your solution can address.


Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to pitch their innovation to SSEN-T.

Selected solution(s) will be trialled at SSEN-T sites, with the potential for successful solutions to be rolled out for both new generator installations and the replacement of existing diesel generators.


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