A new cutting-edge technology centre has opened in Cumbernauld that will allow the energy industry to simulate real life conditions to 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 owned and operated by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), is the first of its kind in the UK. It was officially opened by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Employability and Training and the local MSP, Jamie Hepburn, on 26 April 2017.

The National HVDC Centre has created eight new high-skilled jobs and provides an industry-wide collaborative testing facility for electricity Transmission Owners and Operators, suppliers, developers and academic institutions to simulate the use of HVDC technology on the GB electricity network.

The centre will play a crucial role in the development of HVDC technology projects, such as the Caithness-Moray subsea transmission line which is currently in construction.  Caithness-Moray will introduce HVDC technology within SSEN’s transmission network in the north of Scotland for the first time and the opening of the HVDC Centre is an important step in the development of this technology.

HVDC is the most efficient way to transport electricity over long distances, and it is particularly beneficial for subsea transmission. Due to the increasing need to connect more remote renewable generation schemes, such as offshore wind farms, there is expected to be a significant number of new 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 to identity and mitigate any risks in a safe test environment before the technology goes live on the network.

This new centre was funded through the energy regulator Ofgem’s Electricity Network Innovation Competition.
Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn said:

“I am delighted to open the Centre the first of its kind in the country.

“It will play a crucial role in supporting the future of our electricity network including major transmission reinforcement between Caithness and Moray and will support construction jobs boosting the economy.

“Once the building is operational it will also create new high-skilled jobs in the area making it a key location for electrical research and innovation."

David Gardner, Director of Transmission at SSEN said:

“The HVDC Centre is going to play a crucial role in creating the electricity networks of the future. The use of HVDC technology is becoming more common, with at least four schemes due to connect to the GB network in the next few years. The complexity this will cause will be eased through the testing facility here in Cumbernauld as we can model the network to ensure we are ready for the adoption of the technology”.

There are currently four schemes using HVDC technology connecting to the electricity network of Great Britain, with some currently in construction and many more expected within the next few 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.

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