SSE Substation Delivery Framework

Key Facts

  • Client: Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
  • Value: Peaking at £30m per annum (BAM Nuttall value)
  • Location: Scotland

BAM Nuttall with joint venture partners Siemens are delivering new build substations in Moray and the west of Scotland under a 5 year framework.

BAM Nuttall with joint venture partners Siemens are delivering new build substations in Moray and the west of Scotland under a 5 year framework. The substations are being built to cope with increased generation created by renewable energy projects and to reinforce its existing network.

BAM is responsible for the design and construction of all civil infrastructure, which typically includes: establishing the site compound and depot, earthworks including the substation platform, concrete foundations for electrical equipment, buried services including drainage, ducting, and earth mat, roadworks, construction of the control building, and finishings including CCTV, lighting, fencing, and landscaping. Work also includes isolation, decommissioning and demolition of the existing substation.

Main Text

The Projects

The Siemens BAM JV completed their first substation on this framework, at Crossaig in March 2016. This is a GIS 220/132kv substation located on the Argyll Peninsular and is one of the main components in a new AC subsea cable connection between Kintyre and Hunterston.

Three other substations at Blackhillock, Fyrish and Loch Buidhe were at various stages of completion in March 2016.

Health and Safety

Crossaig recorded an excellent safety record of 791 days without a lost time incident, which is being replicated on the other three sites. We set high expectations right from the start. Everyone working on site was involved in safety stand-down days at key points in the programme. This gave a chance to reflect on past performance, to focus on key hazards and to learn from each other.

The communication flow was very good at Crossaig. We ensured there were no barriers, with everyone encouraged to identify potential hazards and know that action would be taken to rectify them. SSE underlined their commitment to safety by insisting that there was a full-time safety officer on each site.


Guaranteed continuous work for five years and a genuine drive between Bam Nuttall, Siemens and SSE to work closely for a common aim, has led to the development of a fully integrated team.

As an example of the resulting joined-up, one team approach, a change in project scope at Blackhillock meant procuring an additional building as well as equipment for the DNO supply.

As soon as the issue was identified, all parties sat down together to establish a solution and it was delivered in one month, whilst still ensuring the achievement of the permanent supply. That achievement was critical to the overall programme.

Gary Callaghan, the SSE lead project manager at Blackhillock, praised the Siemens BAM response.They got things moving on the very first day. It’s the type of challenge that could have taken months to resolve, but because of the trust that exists there was no bureaucracy. The relationship between SSE and Siemens BAM is very much on the right course. We understand how each other operate.


Challenging the way things have been done in the past in order to drive down costs is a top priority for SSE, Siemens and BAM Nuttall.

BAM and Siemens have fortnightly calls to share ideas and undertake regular innovation meetings with SSE. Some innovations that have been developed include:

  • Redesign of the AIS cable feeder bay at Loch Buidhe has reduced its foot print length by 9 metres resulting in significant savings. This will benefit Loch Buidhe and Blackhillock and has been adopted by SSE as a standard for future substations.
  • Using steel rather than aluminium for support structures has saved £730,000 at Fyrish and Loch Buidhe.
  • Changing the fencing specification at both Fyrish and Loch Buidhe and challenging the need to erect both a deer fence and a boundary fence and recommended installing only one has resulted in savings of £1.4 million.