National Grid call out to industry to find low-carbon alternatives to back up diesel generators

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has launched their first ‘Call for Innovation’ to businesses across the UK to find a new low-carbon alternative to backup diesel generators.

NGET currently use batteries alongside diesel generators to provide backup power to a substation for key activities such as cooling fans, pumps, and lighting, enabling it to continue to perform its crucial role in the electricity transmission system.

These backup generators are rarely used and have less than a 1% chance of operating per year, however, on the rare occasion that backup power is required, changing from diesel to low-carbon emission alternatives have the potential to reduce carbon intensity by 90%* and save over 500,000kg of carbon emissions

NGET is seeking to establish a new commercial approach with a 3rd party supplier, enabling it to try new backup power systems or combined standby and generation assets as low carbon alternatives

The Call for Innovation (CFI) is an approach to the market to see what products and services are available in the industry with funding coming from Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance.

Whilst there are low-carbon alternative diesel fuels in the market, there is a need to explore new assets, interfaces, commercial frameworks and asset management policies that support the adoption of new technology.

Backup generators are used at over 250 NGET sites across England and Wales, the majority of which are diesel powered. These systems provide NGET with the resilience to recover from a loss of supply event.

Ben Kuchta, Innovation Engineer for Net Zero Innovation at National Grid said: "As the electricity transmission owner for England and Wales, we play an important role at the heart of the UK’s transition to net zero. It’s important we lead by example, reducing our own emissions and working with others to enable and accelerate the transition to net zero. Finding new low-carbon alternatives to diesel generators is another step on that journey and we encourage suppliers to come forward."

Ofgem’s Director of Strategy and Decarbonisation Neil Kenward said: "Ofgem has played a crucial role in driving down carbon emissions over the last 20 years, with network regulation enabling a huge increase in renewable energy generation. As energy regulator, we are helping to create the right infrastructure for net zero to thrive and today’s announcement is the perfect example of this innovation in practice."

The Call for Innovation is looking to hear from suppliers who can:

  • provide low emission, backup power systems or combined standby and generation assets
  • provide products that are of an optimised design to ensure space efficiency

  • provide products that require minimal civils works to install

  • have an interface with supervisory control and data acquisition.

Interested suppliers can apply and the deadline for entries is 14 April 2022.

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Notes to Editors:

*Emissions calculations are based on an estimated 66 diesel fuelled engines used for black start recovery on the electricity transmission network in England and Wales. Assuming the diesel engines have the minimum emission control devices, the EU carbon intensity values for class 2A diesel used in an engine is 977 g/kWh. Hydrogen produced via electrolysis is 82g/kWh. It's assumed that one alternative, a hydrogen powered fuel cell could return the quoted figures under the proposed new electricity restoration standards.

Contact for media information only:

Ben Davis
[email protected]