The University of Strathclyde and leading energy companies including ScottishPower and Scottish and Southern Energy, with support from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council, are opening a £12.5m Power Network Demonstration Centre (PNDC) - the first of its kind in Europe.
It’s described as a world class research centre that will accelerate the adoption of new, 'smart' technologies, from advanced power grids to electric cars and household appliances. The Centre is expected to play a key role in increasing the UK electricity grid's efficiency and reliability, as well as testing the next generation of smart electrical technologies, including supporting the integration of new renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and smart household appliances with the grid.
Around 25 staff will be based at the Centre, which will be built in Cumbernauld. It will include the most advanced, control, monitoring and communications systems, and is expected to open at the end of 2011.
The main aims of the centre will be:
• To provide a purpose built platform for showcasing state-of-the-art electrical distribution, generation, storage and demand side innovation.
• To create a rapid technology pipeline accelerating the proving and deployment of integrated smart grid solutions.
• To provide a realistic and controllable test bed for the development of emerging smart grid technologies that will support the realisation of a de-carbonised grid.
The PNDC is a collaborative venture involving an industrial membership that currently includes ScottishPower, and Scottish and Southern Energy. Membership is open to interested organisations within the international energy sector to set the direction of the core research programme.
Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: "Scotland is ideally placed to develop the next generation of smart, electrical technologies that will reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector, improve energy efficiency and ensure we maintain a secure supply of power. But it is critical that we remove the technical - and economic - barriers to connecting these technologies to our existing infrastructure. The new Centre will do just that, and set new standards in electrical distribution."