Project timeline

Phase Stage Timescales Activities


January 2016 – January 2017 Review NIA project outputs and confirm requirements
Refine assessment & selection criteria
Confirm preferred solutions
Develop full suite of supports
Prepare prototype scope and testing requirements
Refine design
Stage 1.2 – Prototypes and Initial Testing December 2016 – September 2017 Consult with stakeholders
Build scale prototypes – ‘fit’ and connection check
Confirm requirements and design for ancillary equipment and facilities
Prove elements and components
Evaluate outputs
Stage 1.3 – Parallel Design January 2017 – March 2018 Select potential trial routes
Evaluate against conventional options for route application
Conventional application – planning and environmental appraisal
Conventional application – main works
Conventional application – associated works
New design application – planning and environmental appraisal
New design application – main works
New design application – associated works.
Compare and review NeSTS with conventional supports
Refine design further
Stage 1.4 – Full Scale Testing


September 2017- December 2018 Finalise full scale and component testing requirement
Develop testing – procurement and technical management
Test components and main elements at full scale: supports, foundations and conductor system
Evaluate outputs and design
Prepare Phase 2 specification
October – November 2018 Review Stage 1 outputs and NeSTS Business Case
PHASE 2 – DEMONSTRATION AND IMPLEMENTATION Stage 2.1 – Planning and Evaluation for the New Design July 2018 – December 2019 Apply for planning & environmental consent
Design details of new structures
Type test support at European test facility
Consult with stakeholders
Stage 2.2 – Implementation and Construction November 2018 – July 2020 Deliver construction of project using new design approach
Develop new operational practices to suit new designs
Develop new technology specific tools and equipment
Stage 2.3 – Monitoring and Evaluation April 2020 – March 2021 Procure equipment for monitoring and evaluation of installed design
Stage 2.4 – Knowledge Dissemination November 2016 – March 2022 Implement learning & dissemination activities (note this stage will run concurrently with all other stages throughout the project)

The NeSTS project has two phases.  NIC funding provides support for the additional, incremental costs of developing and deploying NeSTS for the first time only.  NIC funding is essential to give TOs sufficient confidence that NeSTS is a suitable alternative to conventional supports and the T-Pylon.  NIC funding enables SHE Transmission to conduct the following tasks:

  • development and demonstration of NeSTS;
  • consult with licensees, statutory authorities and other stakeholders;
  • carry out prototype testing and evaluation;
  • create policies/ processes for construction, safety, operation and maintenance; and
  • gather, analyse and share learning from the project.

The detailed programme can be seen in Appendix 5, and is outlined below.  The prototype testing and full scale deployment on the live network are essential to understand NeSTS’s (i) resilience (ii) suitability for a future deployment within a comprehensive range of ground conditions and (iii) electrical and mechanical performance.  This will provide TOs with the information needed to adopt NeSTS.

Stakeholder consultation forms an important part of the project.  Engagement with statutory authorities, planners and licensees has confirmed that stakeholders welcome innovation that could reduce the visual and environmental impact of infrastructure projects.  The NIC programme will consult in-depth with statutory authorities, licensees and the supply chain to develop NeSTS supports that are technically, visually and environmentally acceptable.

Phase 1: Design Development and Testing

Stage 1.1: Concept Proving (January 2016 – January 2017)

This stage of the project will review the NIA outputs and establish the potential for additional innovation.  The SAM will be developed further to evaluate electrical, mechanical and civil requirements, and environmental and visual impact.  This will lead to the selection of the preferred NeSTS designs.  Stage 1 will develop the suite of supports and prepare the prototype and testing requirements specification.

Stage 1.2: Prototypes and Initial Testing (December 2016 – September 2017)

Stage 1.2 involves extensive stakeholder consultation to include licensees, statutory authorities and the supply chain, as well as other interested parties.  This will inform the refinement of the design.  Scale prototypes will be created to verify the fit and connection, and to test the components.  Requirements for ancillary equipment and facilities will be considered before evaluating outputs and refining the designs as required.

Stage 1.3: Parallel Design (January 2017 – March 2018)

This step selects potential project routes for the trial.  The designs are evaluated against traditional supports for a route application.  The conventional design will be developed alongside the new designs to avoid any potential delay to the delivery of the project.

Stage 1.4: Full Scale Testing (September 2017- December 2018)

Stage 1.4 finalises full scale testing requirements and implements a competitive process to procure testing management.  Full scale electrical and mechanical assessment of the main components and elements will take place.  Final adjustments to the designs will be implemented after testing to ensure soundness.  Note that preparation of full scale testing will be complete before the Stage Gate (below) but actual testing will only proceed subject to the satisfactory outcome of the Stage Gate in November 2018.

Stage Gate: (October – November 2018)

The stage gate between Phases 1 and 2 of NeSTS will be a formal process involving SHE Transmission’s Innovation Steering Board and Director of Transmission.  At this point, SHE Transmission will evaluate whether NeSTS could deliver projected benefits and decide whether to proceed with NeSTS to full demonstration on the live network.  This will also involve a review of the NeSTS business case to ensure that it still provides benefits in light of policy developments regarding renewable generation projects.

Phase 2: Implementation

Stage 2.1: Planning and Evaluation (July 2018 – December 2019)

At this point, any final design modifications will be actioned and the designs will be type tested in a dedicated facility.  This is crucial in ensuring the design is supply chain ready and acceptable to other TOs.  SHE Transmission will instigate a planning and consent application for the OHL, involving consultation with stakeholders.

Stage 2.2 Implementation and Construction (November 2018 – July 2020)

It is at this stage that NeSTS moves to construction and commission.  New operational practices, tools and equipment will be developed and tested.  The construction methodology will be validated, including access, egress and plant requirements.

Stage 2.3: Monitoring and Evaluation (April 2020 – March 2021)

Stage 2.3 will involve the procurement and set up of monitoring equipment to evaluate the performance of the NeSTS designs.  Typically this will include thermal imagery, noise and electro-magnetic field surveys and dynamic response and partial discharge monitoring.  The monitoring regime will be determined to reflect the selected supports.

Stage 2.4: Knowledge dissemination (November 2016 – March 2022)

SHE Transmission will share outputs to maximise the value of NIC funding.  A key output will be the publication of a cost-benefits analysis tool, visualisation tools and an e-learning module.  This is described in Section 5 of this document.”