E2E > TB 740: Contemporary design of low cost substations in developing countries (2018)

TB 740: Contemporary design of low cost substations in developing countries (2018)


This Technical Brochure provides a guide on the substation design process aimed at lowering the cost of substations for developing countries. The Technical Brochure is divided into three distinct themes. The first theme explores the substation design philosophy and process – philosophy of design, contemporary asset management applied to substation design and discussion of the design process. The second theme identifies engineering considerations for substation design – equipment selection; siting, access and constructability; operability and maintainability; and safety and environment. The third theme reflects on the project management and commercial approaches intended to lower exposure to lifecycle cost – project management considerations; costing; procurement of infrastructure and training of design practitioners.



The International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2017, estimated that 1.1bn people, or 14% of the global population, did not have access to electricity.  The majority of these are in developing countries in rural areas.  There are several obstacles to electrification including low demand, low load density, unaffordability by customers, poor infrastructure, high cost to develop infrastructure, political instability and economic risks such as assuring an adequate rate of return.


The design of low-cost substations as well as the processes for the supply and installation of these adaptable to specific local circumstances provide a part solution to these obstacles.


This brochure covers the main building blocks with practical examples as follows:


  1. Asset Management: the use of proven techniques to design and manage costs and risks and to get the most performance from the allotted budget;
  2. Engineering: the use of standard designs and modular designs for labour and cost savings in preparing design deliverables; incorporating safety in design
  3. Equipment: the use of standard material and equipment for cost savings in specification, procurement, installation and maintenance of substation infrastructure;
  4. Constructability: the benefits of standardisation of designs and material allow for the most labour efficient and thus cost-effective installation, operation and maintenance of the equipment
  5. Project management: the use of best practices to manage time, resources, scope, and quality will ultimately ensure expenditures are minimised; and
  6. Training: the constant improvement and development of knowledge and skills via classroom, peers, mentors, professional societies and self-motivation will guide designers to innovate toward achieving low-cost high-performing solutions.

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