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Leading by example – Science Central key to energy storage and Smart Grids of the future


A £2million grid–scale energy storage test bed that will pave the way for the future of Smart Grids and energy storage across the UK is to be built in the heart of Newcastle City Centre.

The new energy storage test bed will allow experts from Newcastle University, and their partners in Industry and academia, to develop new technologies for maximising efficiency, availability and sustainability of energy across the power grid in a real-world setting.

Where 20th century power meets 21st century technology, the new grid scale storage demonstrator on Science Central will be the first of its kind in the UK and will be integrated with a full scale Smart Grid on the site.

Bringing together industry and academia, the project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Siemens, Northern Powergrid and the University and is part of a £15 million UK-wide research programme involving eight universities.

Leading the research is Professor Phil Taylor, Director of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability and academic lead for the UK’s largest £54million Smart Grid project.  He explains: “The Smart Grid, with energy storage at its core, represents an unprecedented opportunity to cost effectively decarbonise the electricity system while also maintaining security of supply.

“However to realise the Smart Grid we need to match supply to demand in real time and within network constraints so it is critical to carry out testing, technology improvements, consumer education, development of standards and regulations, and information sharing between projects to ensure that the benefits we envision from the Smart Grid become a reality.

“Newcastle University’s expertise in power systems, power electronics, renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure and our close links with key industry partners means we are well-placed to take a key role in this important and exciting research project.”

Phil Jones, Chief Executive, Northern Powergrid, adds: "Energy storage has the potential to be a real game changer for energy networks in the future. For example, if we can develop cost-effective storage solutions, we will not only be able to connect more customers with generators such as solar panels or electric vehicle charging facilities, but those customers will be able to play an active part in managing down peak demand on the network and reducing their overall energy bill."

published on: 16 July 2013