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Electrical substation flood protection ideas sought

Power distribution companies want civil engineers to come up with ideas to stop electrical substations from flooding.

The Energy Innovation Centre (EIC) said that suggestions with potential will be put forward for further development and trialling with funding from the UK’s electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs).

Secondary substation flooding is considered a serious problem for DNOs. One operator has identified around 20 sites in its territory that are at a high or very high risk of flooding with up to 800mm to 1000mm of water.

At risk secondary substations are fabricated from a variety of construction materials, including timber, palisade and chain link fences and glass reinforced plastic housings. They are not brick structures.

The EIC also wants ideas for alternative oil containment bunding for primary oil-cooled transformers. Bunding prevents environmental contamination if there is an oil leak. It also provides a fire pool facility if there is a fire caused by transformer failure. 

In situations where the replacement of primary transformers or the bunding of existing primary transformers is required, the civil engineering costs account for a significant proportion of the overall project costs.  

One DNO has a network license area which includes 180 primary transformers. These will all be bunded in the next eight years, at an estimated cost of £7.5M. There are a further 13 DNO license areas in Great Britain. 

The operator is seeking civil engineering firms that can offer cheaper, technically compliant solutions. 

The EIC drives the research and development of new technologies and ideas for the electricity and gas power distribution networks, and the offshore renewable energy sector.

“The DNOs we’re working with on these projects are open to exploring the potential of all viable options that present an economically efficient business case. No method will be discounted at this stage,” said Energy Innovation Centre innovation engineer Martin Queen.

“The overall aim is that ideas with a high merit could be developed and trialled with DNO funding. Both DNOs already have specific trial deployments in mind so the need is very real.”

In both cases, the deadline for expressions of interest is 20 February 2015. For more information, contact Martin Queen: or 0151 348 8048.

Readers' comments (2)

  • stephen gibson

    The solution is for DNO's to obtain the professional advice of independent civil engineering consultants.

    DNO's will then be able to understand the complex flood mechanism risks and opportunities to mitigate them in the most cost effective manner. Every site is unique, with different potential approaches.

    The problem in the past was where DNO's bypassed independent professional advice and went direct to contractors and flood product manufacturers, who have their own vested interests to sell certain "solutions". Or they relied on the emergency services and EA to help them.

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  • Don't build them without considering where the water will go when the nearby ditch/stream/river overflows. And don't build them in a hollow!

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