Energy Industry Leader Iberdrola is Searching for Technologies that Improve Substation Operations

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Iberdrola’s Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub seeks startups & scaleups developing innovative technologies that improve the operations of electrical substations to participate in their International Startup Challenge. Apply by 5 April to develop a joint Proof-of-Concept (PoC) & scale your business!

Iberdrola operates over 1.1 million kilometers of electricity transmission and distribution lines, spread throughout the United States, Brazil, the UK, and Spain. The renewable energy leader is racing to get ahead of the current energy transition, to which it will add another €75 billion until 2025 to maintain its position at the forefront of the energy revolution.

The Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub

Having successfully completed several International Startup Challenges, Iberdrola, through its Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub, constantly seeks innovative solutions to address challenges the world’s leading economies face. This time, Iberdrola is launching a Startup Challenge to find innovative technologies that improve substation systems and operations.

The Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub is the new global innovation and knowledge center from Iberdrola that will be a reference point for smart grids. This center will enable Iberdrola to respond to the challenges of the energy transition.

Iberdrola has already identified more than 120 projects for future development with a value of €110 million. The lines of work, which are international in scope, will enable the development and deployment of innovative solutions for the activity of Iberdrola Networks throughout the world.

Are you Solving the Challenges of Substations?

Iberdrola’s energy network comprises over 4,400 high- to medium-voltage substations and more than 1.5 million medium- to low-voltage distribution transformers. Together, they provide a high-quality and reliable service to a total of 31 million electricity supply points.

On many occasions, Iberdrola’s engineers find breakdowns in the switchgear that originate from the assembly and cannot be detected during factory tests, nor during the visual inspection procedures by the teams. Some examples of these faults include power cable errors in making the terminal connections, incorrect connection of unconnected earth strips, auxiliary items that have not been fitted, among others.

The repercussions of these failures in the insulation manifest in the form of partial discharges.

Currently, these high-frequency phenomena can be detected by a number of methods, such as ultrasound or transmitted or radiated fluctuations. Thus, partial discharge detection techniques are used in very high voltage substations for very expensive equipment, such as underground cables and GIS substations. From these measurements, Iberdrola’s highly- specialized staff analyze the results and finally establish the root of the problem.

The problem here is that these are costly and complex methods that also require sophisticated equipment. Furthermore, during assembly and disassembly operations of critical equipment, one of the following actions is also required:

  • Installing permanent monitoring systems.
  • De-energizing the installation during assembly and disassembly of the partial discharge sensors.

The cost and complexity of these jobs, as well as the difficulty of de-energizing the facilities, make their application in high and medium voltage systems unviable.

Given this context, Iberdrola launches this new challenge in the search for competitive, innovative solutions that make it possible to identify anomalies when assembling switchgear at medium and high voltage substations.

What Iberdrola is Looking for

Given this context, during the assembly of critical equipment, diagnostics must be applied to the insulation of high- and medium-voltage substations. Iberdrola is seeking solutions for the following challenges specifically:

Substation Assembly & Disassembly:

  • Substation diagnostics that require simplified procedures for detecting assembly-related issues
  • Solutions that can be applied to energized switchgear during assembly and testing, but without load
  • Solutions that also involve simple assembly where de-energization of the facilities is not required for installation

Substation Diagnostics Tools:

  • Simple measuring systems, suitable for use by non-specialist staff
  • Automatic assessment of the measurements in order to determine the need to check the assembly work, without requiring evaluation of the damaged equipment
  • Solutions for subsequent servicing, with the installation under load

Why Join the Challenge?

The winner of the challenge will benefit in the following ways:

  • Start a Pilot Project after signing a collaboration agreement
  • Acquire new clients through Iberdrola’s network
  • Scale your business to meet commercial agreements
  • Stand the chance to receive capital investment

The evaluation of these proposals will take into account:

  • Reliability and appropriateness for high- and medium-voltage systems
  • Simplicity of use and interpretation of results
  • Usage cost for installations at the commissioning stage and in operational facilities

Develop a PoC together with Iberdrola

The selected project will be developed in collaboration with the technical specialists from the Iberdrola Network area.

The prize will consist of signing a collaboration and test agreement with Iberdrola, who will assume the costs and provide the winner with the necessary technical support, giving access to infrastructure and real data to test the solution.

If the PoC is satisfactory, Iberdrola may offer the winner the opportunity to scale up their solution by means of commercial agreements. In addition, Perseo may consider investing in your solution.


  • Today: Applications are now open!
  • Applications close on 5 April 2021
  • Analysis of Proposal will begin in April 2021
  • The Pilot Project will commence in 2021

Find more information about the Iberdrola Startup Challenge & apply now to improve Substation Systems!



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