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Business & Economy

£9 million smart energy lab launched to solve decarbonisation challenge

A world first smart energy testbed facility has been launched in the North East.

The £9 million Integrated Smart Energy Lab is being delivered by the North East Energy Catalyst partnership, uniting the region’s smart energy capabilities to become the world’s first multi-site energy laboratory.

The Integrated Smart Energy Lab (ISE Lab) combines research and testing capabilities in the North East – home to where the national grid was first pioneered.

It will enable new smart energy research, demonstration and industry engagement, and includes digital and physical assets across multiple locations in the region, interconnected using high performance virtual platforms.

ISE Lab will bring together Newcastle University’s Smart Grid Laboratory and Urban Science Building Energy Storage Test Bed, the Durham University Smart Grid Laboratory and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.

It will offer new capabilities for those seeking to innovate, de-risk and commercialise smart energy solutions, such as energy companies, SMEs, academia and the regional supply chain.

Integrated smart energy systems and services are essential in decarbonising the energy system and optimising the use of low carbon energy sources, highlighted by recent dramatic changes in supply and demand patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, ISE Lab will boost the North East’s green economic growth plans, as well as helping showcase solutions to global energy challenges, and contributing to the UK’s Net Zero carbon emission targets.

Andrew Clark, energy lead at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership which facilitates the North East Energy Catalyst, said: “The national grid was first pioneered in the North East so it is fitting that we are now the region bringing forward a new and unique lab facility that will help us better explore and exploit the benefits of integrated energy systems. This speaks to the strength of collaboration within our region.”

Tony Quinn, test facilities director at ORE Catapult, said: “ISE Lab will bring together a combination of the best intellectual and physical assets that the region has to offer.

“It gives us a great opportunity to address and make a significant contribution to the technological changes required to achieve Net Zero.”

Dr Hongjian Sun, reader in smart grid at the Department of Engineering at Durham University, added: “Integrating energy systems has great potential to decarbonise all energy sectors including transport and heat; but it also brings new challenges such as multi-system modeling and coordination, real-time data collection and learning, and demand response.

“We are very glad to offer expertise and testing facilities through ISE lab initiative, and work with both industries and research organisations to tackle these challenges together.”