Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Europe's first-ever smart grid research centre opens in Scotland

The University of Strathclyde's world-class
Power Networks Demonstration Centre at Cumbernauld.
Europe's first-ever "smart grid" electricity research centre was opened today by Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond.

The University of Strathclyde's Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) at Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, has been established in response to growing demands for secure, reliable and environmentally-friendly electricity across the globe.

The PNDC aims to accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies and convert ideas and research into low carbon solutions for the electricity industry of the future.

The world-class centre is home to researchers, engineers and industry specialists who are developing new research and technologies, from advanced grid control schemes to intelligent sensor systems, in the facility's controlled and safe environment.

The 900-square-metre building,  a venture between the University of Strathclyde, ScottishPower Energy Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council, is equipped with high quality, innovative control and simulations systems and is home to a real-life, reconfigurable power network independent from the national grid.

First Minister Alex Salmond said, "This is a truly world-class research centre and the first of its kind in Europe, clearly reinforcing that Scotland is leading the way when it comes to the new ideas, new solutions and new practices that will help us meet the electricity and energy needs of the future.

"Smart grid technologies are increasingly important as we move to a low-carbon economy, helping to reduce energy waste and making it easier for homes and businesses to generate their own renewable energy. Our ambitious plans for this sector demonstrate that it has the potential to create up to 12,000 jobs by 2020.

"I am therefore delighted to open this hugely innovative research centre, which is a fantastic example of researchers, engineers and industry specialists working together to improve energy efficiency. This firmly putting Scotland at the forefront of smart electrical technologies and setting new standards in electrical distribution."

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said, "As a leading international technological university, our research capabilities and long-standing partnerships with industry put us in an ideal place to develop the next generation of electrical power systems technologies. The Centre will remove many of the barriers to these technologies, improve energy efficiency, ensure that we maintain a secure supply of power and define grids of the future – setting new standards in electrical distribution.

"The launch of the PNDC demonstrates our focus on useful learning across the University and our reputation for high quality research with impact and relevance continues to attract leading industry partners.

"Our close links to business and industry helped Strathclyde win this year's UK University of the Year title, and the PNDC demonstrates these close partnerships in action."

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said, "The PNDC is part of a growing cluster of research & development activity which is establishing Scotland as a world-leader in the innovation, development and design of the next generation of renewable energy and related technologies.

"This concentration of activity is acting as a catalyst for both attracting inward investment into Scotland and in creating the right environment for our own companies to take advantage of growth opportunities.

"The new smart grid action plan will build on this by capitalising on opportunities for companies to generate revenue from smart grid-related products, address skills development, and promote the use of our smart grid asset base."

Frank Mitchell, CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks, said, "The Power Networks Demonstration Centre is a state-of-the-art facility that has an important role to play in helping to drive innovation and develop the smart grid required for the 21st century. Smart grids will allow many more customers to install distributed generation, support electric vehicles, reduce carbon emissions and improve services for our customers.

"We are on the verge of delivering the largest upgrades to our electricity networks in more than half a century - which will see billions of pounds of investment and create thousands of jobs. Partnerships like the Power Networks Demonstration Centre are a vital part of the energy industry's plans to ensure this investment meets the future needs of our customers in Scotland and across Britain."

Stuart Hogarth, Director of Distribution at Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, said, "We are very proud to be founding members of the Power Networks Demonstration Centre. Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) has a dynamic programme of research and development focussed on improving the networks, many of these using 'smart grid' technologies. Partnership working is an important part of our approach and by collaborating with stakeholders from academia, industry, the public and the third sector we can ensure our projects are relevant and provide real benefits."

Laurence Howells, interim chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said, "The Funding Council is pleased to see the Power Networks Distribution Centre is going from strength to strength building on SFC's earlier investment and offering Scottish universities such a valuable opportunity to work with businesses large and small as Scotland constructs power grids for the 21st Century."

Dr Iliana Portugues, Director, Power Networks Demonstration Centre, said, "The challenges faced by the electricity industry are global and will require significant changes to the way we operate networks. One belief shared amongst all our founders is that this change, along with all the uncertainty and discomfort, really does bring opportunity. Our aim, as a group, is not to accept change passively, but to lead it and to manage it creatively.

"Initiatives such as the Power Networks Demonstration Centre achieve this through a new type of collaboration, one which does not affect objectivity, independence or uniqueness. For the health of our individual enterprises, for the good of the society we serve, and the fortunes of those who follow us."

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Scotland's cutting-edge renewables credentials further boosted with £6 million funding award to SHI

Energy Park Fife
Scotland confirmed its cutting-edge credentials in the renewable energy sector with the award of £6 million in funding to Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) to support the development of its latest 7 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine prototype at the Energy Park in Fife.

The Scottish Enterprise award will support an intended total investment of £100 million in Scotland, which SHI announced last year, to launch a successful test demonstration project followed by turbine manufacturing facilities in Scotland in the longer term with the development of the market.

Finance Secretary John Swinney welcomed the consent for the new development and the Scottish Enterprise funding to develop the project, during a visit to Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea.

Mr Swinney said, "Today's announcement marks a significant step forward in establishing a globally competitive supply chain for the offshore wind industry.

"This development, which is being undertaken by Samsung Heavy Industries with more than £6 million support from Scottish Enterprise, will utilise newly developed technologies which have not yet been deployed offshore – further confirming Scotland's commitment to innovation in the offshore wind production sector.

"Fife can play a key role in developing knowledge and research in the energy sector. The site at Fife Energy Park offers the ideal location for a cutting edge test centre like this."

SHI has already awarded multi-million pound contracts to companies in Scotland as part of the project to develop the test turbine, which marks a significant step in establishing a globally competitive supply chain for the offshore wind industry.

Marine Scotland has awarded Scottish Enterprise consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for the construction and operation of the Energy Park Fife Offshore Demonstration Wind Turbine.

Subject to the conclusion of commercial negotiations, SHI will begin construction of the 7 MW prototype turbine later this year. The turbine will be placed on the sea bed around 35 meters from the shore. The Crown Estate will provide the area of sea bed to allow the project to proceed.

SHI is one of the world's leading developers of offshore wind technology based on its expertise in wind, offshore structures and ship building technology.

Chan Hee Son, UK Project Manager of Samsung Heavy Industries said, "This announcement is a major step forward in our plans to develop our latest offshore wind technology in Scotland and is a real testament to the Scottish government's support of the offshore wind energy industry."

Fife is a key part of a growing cluster of economic activity on Scotland's east coast, supporting the development of the offshore wind industry – combining natural resources with industry expertise, existing offshore experience, academic strength, and excellent port infrastructure.

SHI's plans, along with similar planned investments from global energy players Areva and Gamesa, is helping to build a potential manufacturing hub on the east coast – which will offer huge opportunities for supply chain companies in Scotland.

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise said, "Samsung Heavy Industries' plans along with that of other key international players in the sector, are testament to Scotland's growing reputation as a leading global location for the next generation of offshore wind energy.

"The success of companies in Scotland in securing business from Samsung, demonstrates that we are building a strong supply chain – which is critical if we are to truly realise our offshore wind potential."

Scotland is increasingly becoming recognised as a centre of expertise for the next generation of offshore wind energy technologies and POWERS (Prototype Offshore Wind Energy Renewables Support) was set up to help create the right investment conditions for inward investors looking for the best location for manufacturing, including prototype testing.

Councillor Tom Adam, chair of Levenmouth Area Committee said, "Methil is well placed to be one of the leading centres for the global offshore wind industry. I am delighted with the confirmation of funding from Scottish Enterprise for the Samsung project. This marks another significant milestone in this project at Energy Park Fife.

"Although the demonstrator turbine will be the tallest man-made structure in Fife, it will be a visible symbol of Methil's commitment to job creation in the offshore renewables sector. The fact that the world's most powerful offshore wind turbine is going to be tested for the first time just off the Fife coast is a major milestone for the local community. This builds on the success of Energy Park Fife and the recent opening of Fife Renewables Innovation Centre. We hope that Samsung's commitment to Methil will be a springboard to other development and investment in the Levenmouth area."

Rob Hastings, The Crown Estate's Director of Energy & Infrastructure, added, "The Crown Estate worked closely with Scottish Enterprise to ensure Samsung can access the seabed to test and develop their next generation offshore wind turbine.

"We are delighted that Samsung's programme to develop this turbine has taken a big step forward and we’re pleased to have been able to provide certainty and support to Samsung in their endeavours. Their long-term investment is a hugely important contribution to building the supply chain in Scotland and in driving growth of a world-class offshore wind industry."