Constellation Open Innovation Competition

About the project

Constellation is a world-first innovation project, led by UK Power Networks, that is seeing powerful computers installed in a series of substations, turning them into smart substations. This enables each local substation to analyse millions of data points on how the network is running and reconfigure the network based on specific conditions. Optimising our substations in this way will free up capacity and help facilitate the rise in renewable energy generation. Constellation will deliver detailed technical insights on how world-first smart substations can revolutionise the way our networks are run.

Constellation is aiming to achieve this by creating a virtualised, interoperable, scalable, flexible, future-proofed system for local intelligence that works in partnership with our central network management system. This system is underpinned by secure communications between substations.

For more information about the project, please visit the project’s webpage.

Project trials

The constellation platform and its key methods will undergo thorough validation throughout its trial’s phases. The first offline trials were carried out at PNDC in Glasgow using a purpose-built test environment. This is currently being followed by live trials across the UK Power Networks Southeast area.

Open Innovation Competition and Requirements

As part of the trial, we’re inviting suppliers to innovate in the substation’s environment by opening up substation computation platforms. In this Open Innovation Competition (OIC) suppliers can submit their ideas and solutions which address challenges associated with following key areas. Note that other areas may be of interest and will be assessed based on the submission.

Medium Voltage (MV) fault level estimation; fault prediction, detection and classification; and active fault level management

Voltage regulation and coordinated voltage control

Primary asset condition monitoring, inspection and maintenance including distributed monitoring, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics/machine learning at the edge

Microgrid operation and control of grid forming Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

Virtualisation of Remote Terminal Units (RTUs)

Cyber security and cyber-resilience of the digital substation

Resilient and accurate time dissemination

Proposed solutions shall be readily deployable on the Constellation substation servers in the form of an Open Virtualisation Format/Appliance (OVF/OVA). Where necessary, solutions interfacing with primary assets or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) for monitoring and control purposes shall be over standard (non-proprietary) communications already in use by UK Power Networks (e.g. IEC 61850, DNP3).

The digital substation architecture adopted in the project is shown in the figure below. Selected solutions shall be deployed on the grid substation servers and if required in servers installed in predetermined DER locations as part of the project trials scope. Virtual components of the solution can also be deployed in the UK Power Networks Azure cloud.

Constellation Architecture

OIC Governance

Please fill in the electronic form to submit your ideas.

Submissions will be evaluated by an internal expert panel based on the maturity of the solution and route to Business as Usual (BaU). Selected suppliers will engage with UK Power Networks to agree a deployment and commercial plan. Successful suppliers will then participate in the project trials phase including PNDC and live network trials as appropriate.

Successful candidates of the OIC must adhere to the Intellectual Property (IPR) guidelines and requirements defined in the Network Innovation Competition (NIC) Governance Document. Candidates are required to review those funding conditions and ensure that they are willing to adhere to them prior to submitting their proposals.

As a guideline, the default IPR conditions apply to IPR which is material to the dissemination of knowledge gained from the learning in respect of the Constellation project. This knowledge may be the information, understanding or skills necessary to reproduce or simulate the outcome of the project. It may also be the knowledge necessary to avoid a negative outcome. Where the deployment of IPR materially reduces the cost, difficulty or time associated with reproducing the outcome of the project, this would also constitute IPR which is material to the dissemination of knowledge.

For the avoidance of doubt, successful candidates shall retain all rights in and to its Background IPR. Furthermore, all Foreground IPR that it independently creates as part of the project, or where it is created jointly, shall be owned in shares that are in proportion to the work done in its creation.

Where access to project participants’ Background IPR is required to undertake the project, the participants shall grant a non-exclusive licence to this Background IPR (Relevant Background IPR), to the other project participants, solely for the purposes of the project, during the term of the project.


The amount of funding granted under the OIC will be dictated by the nature of the proposed solutions, incubation methods, equipment required, and deployment costs. Shortlisted candidates will be required to share details regarding proposed funding requirements at the next stage of the review process. Furthermore, UK Power Networks is always on the lookout for innovative ideas and solutions, additional funding opportunities may be considered for exceptional proposals.

OIC Timeline

OIC timeline

Submit your ideas