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First Minister Alex Salmond opens "world class" Power Networks Demonstration Centre, in Cumbernauld

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 15:25 GMT on Thursday, May 16th, 2013.

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Graphic of the new facility. Copyright of Strathclyde University. 

CUMBERNAULD is now home to a multi-million pound electricity grid research centre. 

Based at Napier Road, in Wardpark Industrial Estate, Strathclyde University's Power Networks Demonstration Centre was opened today by First Minister Alex Salmond, and aims to speed up the adoption of advanced technologies for the electricity sector, alongside plans to convert research into low carbon solutions for the industry.

Officially opening the new centre, First Minister Alex Salmond described the new facility as “world class”.

Mr 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."

The new Cumbernauld centre is fully equipped with control and simulations systems; in addition to being the new home of a power network independent from the national grid.

The facility is part of a joint venture between the University of Strathclyde, Scottish Power Energy Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council, and will see researchers; engineers and industry specialists work alongside each other on projects such as advanced grid control schemes and intelligent sensor systems.

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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.”

The new Cumbernauld centre is a 900 square metre building and follows a total of £8m capital investments, by PNDC, to date.

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 SSE, said: “We are very proud to be founding members of the Power Network 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."

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