Picture Caption: Simon Marshall, SHE Transmission (left), Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training (centre) and Calum Murray, CCG (right) at the site of The National HVDC Centre in Cumbernauld.

Construction has started on a new technology centre in Cumbernauld that will test and de-risk the use of high voltage direct current (HVDC) on the electricity network in Great Britain.

The National HVDC Centre, which will be the first of its kind in the UK, is due to open in 2017, creating eight new high-skilled jobs.

The Minister for Employability and Training and the local MSP for the site, Jamie Hepburn MSP, attended the ground-breaking ceremony to signal the start of the construction of the new centre on Thursday, 1 September 2016. 

The National HVDC Centre will be built at Oki Way, Cumbernauld near the University of Strathclyde’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre and Scottish Power’s Training Centre. Glasgow-based construction group CCG is the principle contractors to build the National HVDC Centre, which was designed by Glasgow-based BSP Architects Ltd.

This new centre will be owned and operated by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHE Transmission), and is funded through the energy regulator Ofgem’s Electricity Network Innovation Competition.

The National HVDC Centre in Cumbernauld will provide a testing facility for electricity Transmission Owners and Operators, suppliers, developers and academic institutions to simulate the use of HVDC on the British electricity network.

Representatives from Scottish Power, Scottish Enterprise and the University of Strathclyde were also in attendance to mark the start of the building’s construction.

HVDC is the most efficient way to transport electricity over long distances, and is particularly beneficial for subsea transmission. Due to the increasing need to connect more remote renewable generation, such as offshore wind farms, there is expected to be a significant number of HVDC schemes deployed in Great Britain over the coming years.

The facility will use powerful computer simulators, which replicate the electricity network in real time, to allow engineers to study the impact the complex HVDC systems can have and to mitigate any risks.

Simon Marshall, Manager for The National HVDC Centre, said: “There are currently four schemes using HVDC technology connecting to the electricity network of Great Britain, with some currently in construction and many more to come within the next 15 years, creating a very complex system. The National HVDC Centre will ensure that each of these projects is tested before going live on the electricity network and then supported through their operational life. The facility will also be used to train engineers on the complexities of HVDC systems and stimulate innovation within the industry.”

Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training, said: “The HVDC Centre is the first of its kind in the country and it will be used by companies and academics across Scotland, the rest of Great Britain and from Europe. In addition to playing a crucial role in supporting the future of the country’s electricity network including major transmission reinforcement between Caithness and Moray, the centre will support construction jobs and once the building is operational it will create new high-skilled jobs in the area. The construction of the HVDC Centre is the third centre dedicated to the electricity industry in Cumbernauld – making it a key location for electrical research and innovation."

Calum Murray, Director of CCG, said: “The National HVDC Centre is the second project that CCG has been involved in with SSE, and one which we are very excited about. We are very proud to be working with SSE again to deliver a project that will bring huge benefits to the local economy of Cumbernauld as well as enhancing Scotland and the UK’s offering to the energy market for years to come.”

The computer simulators in The National HVDC Centre are being provided by RTDS Technologies and the engineering and design consultancy WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff is providing additional support.

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