National Grid partners with UK universities on innovation projects to help deliver net zero

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has penned innovation partnerships with six UK universities in a bid to help decarbonise the electricity system and accelerate progress towards net zero.

Researchers, analysts and academics from Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester, Southampton and Strathclyde Universities will partner with NGET on projects spanning areas related to maintaining the electricity network.

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

The collaborations will also focus on new approaches to NGET’s day-to-day management of the network, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of academics 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.

Work at the Advanced High Voltage Engineering Research Centre at Cardiff University has focused on SF6-free alternative insulation gases, for example.

“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 NGET said.

Professor Gareth Harrison, deputy head of School of Engineering, the University of Edinburgh added: “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 news also comes just months after a turf cutting ceremony took place on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus in late January to mark the beginning of construction of a new facility for the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste – a partnership between the University of Exeter and South West Water

“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,” Professor Zhongdong Wang, pro-vice-chancellor and executive dean of College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences and the director of the Centre for Smart Grid at University of Exeter said.

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