High tech centre secures Cumbernauld’s place at vanguard of energy industry

Photo courtesy Stuart Nicol
Photo courtesy Stuart Nicol

A new multimillion pound facility which has just opened will help enhance Cumbernauld’s reputation as an important hub for the energy industry.

The National HVDC Centre, situated in Oki Way in Westfield Industrial Estate, facilitates sophisticated analysis of potential changes to the national grid in a safe environment.

Stewart Reid, head of asset management and innovation for SSEN, said: “This facility helps us understand how to move and manage huge amounts of energy. The High Voltage Direct Current model used here is a new technology which will expand in years to come and we will be able to carry out various tests here and also run different ‘what if?’ scenarios.”

Funded through the Ofgem Electricity Network Innovation Competition, the £13 million centre is the first of its kind in the UK. It offers industry-wide collaborative testing for electricity companies and academic institutions. It will be crucial as High Voltage Direct Current systems continue to be developed across the network. HVDC projects currently under development

include the Caithness-Moray subsea transmission line which will see HVDC be distributed through SSEN’s network in the north of Scotland for the first time.

HVDC is an efficient power transmission system that is best used in an undersea environment. The ever-increasing need to connect the grid with renewable energy producers such as offshore wind farms means it will expand significantly in coming years.

Jamie Hepburn MSP, who is the Minister for Employability and Training in addition to being the constituency representative, opened the centre six months on from leading the sod-cutting ceremony marking the start of construction.

The opening ceremony was attended by numrous guests, some travelling from as far afield as Norway.

The centre has created eight highly-skilled jobs and will also become an important training venue for others in the energy industry.

Mr Hepburn said: “I am delighted to see this open in Cumbernauld as, along with SSE’s other local facilities in the area, this really strengthens Cumbernauld’s credentials as a major focal point for the energy industry in Scotland. Add to that other facilities like our film studio and it gives Cumbernauld a lot to be proud of.”