InstEE and PNDC - Accelerating smart grid innovation
The project: The Institute for Energy and Environment (InstEE) at the University of Strathclyde is one of the largest electrical power academic research groups in Europe, comprising over 250 people including 29 academics. An extensive range of experimental laboratories underpin the institute’s R&D which include new state of the art facilities within the university’s flagship Technology and Innovation Centre and the innovative and industry-scale Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC). The institute holds an extensive portfolio of national and international research programmes, spanning its four key areas of competence: advanced electrical systems; wind energy and control; power electronics, drives and energy conversion; and high voltage technology.
The challenge: Delivering the future low carbon electricity network is a key strategic challenge for the energy sector. With global populations increasing, and the shift to electrification of transport, the growing demand for renewable power sources to be integrated into the existing grid has become a serious challenge to achieving a national and international vision of low carbon energy.
The purpose: The West of Scotland seeks to establish itself as a global clean tech hub with the centre designed to provide world-leading R&D facilities for the fast-expanding smart grid industry. The £12.5m PNDC in Cumbernauld provides a small-scale electricity grid system, not connected to the grid, which allows firms to test and demonstrate new smart grid technologies for the future delivery of secure, affordable and low carbon energy.
The people and partners: The institute hosts a number of established industry research collaborations with Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), National Grid, Rolls-Royce, French transmission system operator RTE, Belgian system operator Elia, Mitsubishi, TNEI and Toshiba.
The outcomes: The environment at PNDC enables close working between academics, engineers and technologists to define and execute R&D. The resulting project portfolio thus includes innovation and validation projects for a range of partners in the energy, transport and marine sectors. Work has also led the development of several spinout companies, including Smarter Grid Solutions, Bellrock Technology and Synapte, to take new technologies to market.
The impact: Research and developments in renewable energy systems are vital in combatting world climate change and fossil fuel dependency. The smart grid has the potential to solve many of our energy problems. It’ll better match supply and demand and is more efficient, greener and wastes less energy. It’s also more secure and reliable, and unexpected power outages can be tackled faster too.
This case study was published in June 2018