Partnering with UK universities on innovation projects to help deliver net zero

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has signed innovation partnerships with six universities across the UK that will help decarbonise the electricity system in Great Britain and accelerate progress towards net zero.

Researchers, analysts and academics from Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester, Southampton and Strathclyde Universities will partner with NGET colleagues on projects across a wide range of areas related to NGET’s work maintaining the electricity network in Great Britain.

The partnerships, which cover the five-year period of the RIIO-2 price control from 2021 to 2026, will help to enable the transition to a cleaner electricity system through knowledge sharing and creation of a culture of innovation, both between NGET and individual universities and as an entire collective.

The collaborations will also focus on innovative new approaches to NGET’s day to day management of the network, calling on the knowledge and expertise of the universities to ensure a continued focus on resilience and security of supply. Other focus areas include low emissions technologies and new power electronics applications, as well as increasing the digitalisation of the power system, through the use of artificial intelligence and data management and analysis.

Collaborations such as these will enable us to move faster and further, unlocking new technologies, processes and systems that will make our network cleaner, at the same time as driving costs down for consumers.

Nicola Todd, Head of Strategy and Innovation at National Grid Electricity Transmission said: Innovation will be crucial in helping to achieve a safe, resilient and decarbonised electricity system. Collaborations such as these will enable us to move faster and further, unlocking new technologies, processes and systems that will make our network cleaner, at the same time as driving costs down for consumers.

The partnerships will help to develop and deliver projects in the following areas:

  • Electricity transmission network asset design, operation and maintenance

  • Power system modelling and simulation

  • Power electronics applications for electricity transmission networks

  • Digitalisation of power system, including: data management and analysis; robotics; virtual and augmented reality; and, artificial intelligence applications for transmission networks

  • Energy system decarbonisation, including low-emission technologies and whole system modelling.

Manu Haddad, Professor and Director of the Advanced High Voltage Engineering Research Centre from Cardiff University said: “This Innovation Partnership will allow us to strengthen our long-established research collaboration with NGET in the areas of transmission networks power systems transients and safe high voltage solutions, with focus on SF6-free alternative insulation gases that have a much lower global warming potential, outdoor insulation and safety of plant.”

Professor Gareth Harrison, Deputy Head of School of Engineering, The University of Edinburgh said: “The University of Edinburgh is delighted to be joining the National Grid Innovation Framework at what is an exciting and pivotal time for the UK electricity supply industry. We regard this as a tribute to the Universities history of inter-disciplinary, energy research and an opportunity to apply this to some of the big engineering challenges of our time. The University is looking forward to sharing and developing its expertise on power system modelling, power electronics, energy system decarbonisation and net zero.”

Professor Zhongdong Wang FIEEE FIET, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences and the Director of the Centre for Smart Grid, University of Exeter said: "The research framework with National Grid is a milestone for Smart Grid Research at the University of Exeter and is closely aligned with our strategy to promote affordable low-carbon energy, which is a fundamental component of a green environmental and economic future.”

Ian Cotton, Professor of High Voltage Technology from the University of Manchester said: “We are delighted to continue our work with National Grid to deliver innovative solutions that will help deliver net zero. Our projects are accelerating the deployment of environmental fluids in transformers, ensuring we can eliminate SF6 in high-voltage switchgear and maximising the power transfer capacity of existing infrastructure.”

Professor Paul Lewin CEng FIET FIEEE, Head of Electronics and Computer Science and Professor of Electrical Power Engineering from the University of Southampton said: “The University of Southampton is delighted to continue to develop its long relationship with National Grid and in particular to assist in delivering innovation in key areas including high voltage plant and electrical insulation materials.”

Professor Graeme Burt, Director of the Institute for Energy and Environment, from the University of Strathclyde said“We are delighted to see this next phase of cooperation with NGET for delivering its innovation strategy, building on our track record of collaborative energy innovation that was recognised in a R&D Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2020. Through this Framework, NGET will have access to expertise from across the Institute, our wider network of University academics,  and our industry facing centres such as the PNDC, enabling multidisciplinary approaches and innovative solutions to NGET strategic innovation priorities.”


Contact for media information only:

Ben Davis
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