To mitigate climate change, the UK Government has committed to ‘net zero greenhouse gases by 2050’.  Current electrical energy is generated by mix of coal/gas (~ 50%) and nuclear power stations (~20%), renewables (~20%) and imports from the EU (~10%).

The cost of renewable energy has reduced as the cost of large nuclear power generators has increased.  All but one of the existing nuclear power stations will be phased out by 2035 and plans to replace them are in some difficulty.  Imported electricity is vulnerable to supply and price variations when we leave the EU.

Innovative electrical generation and supply is required to ‘keep the lights on’ 24/7/365 as coal and gas generated power is phased out.  Carbon free energy storage to complement renewables is needed when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine to avoid reliance on expensive fossil fuelled standby generators.  Robust, flexible, highly efficient distribution systems, resilient to cyber-attack are essential.

Initiatives to promote electric transport and reduce carbon emissions from buildings are expected to significantly increase future consumer demand.

The Challenge

The Challenge is to develop a plan to meet UK’s electrical power demand between 2021 and 2040 based on achievable infrastructure development. The plan must:

  • Assess future demand,
  • Identify carbon free means of generating and supplying electrical power,
  • Evaluate the relative benefits and constraints of each technology in terms of:
    • Efficiency, availability (eg 24/7/365) and reliability,
    • Cost-effectiveness,
    • Development schedule,
    • Technical, schedule and project cost risk.
  • Develop a plan for electrical power generation and supply for the UK based on:
    • Achievable infrastructure development between 2021 and 2040,
    • The potential to be carbon free by 2050,
    • A mix of technologies optimised for reliability and affordability.

(An all nuclear solution is not acceptable; it is almost certainly not achievable in the timescale nor affordable.)


The competition is open to first year sixth form (Year 12) teams. Teams may be of any size provided they can function as an effective team.


Future demand assessment 10
Identification of carbon free electrical generation and supply technologies 10
Evaluation of the relative strengths and constraints of each technology 45
Plan for UK electrical supply and demand 25
Presentation 10
Total 100


First prize £500
Second prize £300
Third prize 200


Design solutions will be judged by Richard Blott and Charles Matthews with the support and advice from relevant experts. We will pay particular attention to the application of engineering principles such as:

  • Project Definition,
  • Feasibility Analysis,
  • Development,
  • Implementation and
  • Adaptation

We will also take into consideration the additional challenge of team building and operation based largely on electronic as opposed to face to face communication.


30th November 2020: Entry Closing Date.

Register Competition Entry by emailing your intention to participate, the school point of contact and team description (number and, if possible, team names) to

Friday 26th March 2021: Closing date for submissions.

See ‘FINAL PROJECT PLAN PRESENTATION FORMAT’ below for submission details.

Saturday 24th April 2021: Final Assessment & Prize Giving. (Provisional)

Subject to prevailing conditions concerning gatherings, for the Final Assessment teams will be asked to present their solutions and address questions concerning their submissions. Each team will be required to prepare a poster highlighting the key points of their solution. The final selection of winners will be based their solutions and presentations. If it is not possible to hold an event for this purpose, alternative arrangements will be considered.


Your Design Solution is an opportunity to present complex issues imaginatively so that they can be clearly understood and are supported by sufficient evidence to establish their credibility.

Design Solutions are to be uploaded to for judging.  Solutions should not exceed 20,000 words plus diagrams and calculations but that is an absolute maximum noting that quality not quantity will be a key criteria in judging the competition.

GENERAL RULES are to be found on the BMC website ‘’