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Sparks fly as electrical research centre opens

05 Oct 2009

A new electrical research centre that will help the development of green technology has been launched at The University of Manchester.

Prof Andy Gibson with Chris Murray, National Grid's Director of Transmission,

The National Grid Power Systems Research Centre, which comprises the Dielectrics Materials Laboratory and the Protection and Control Laboratory, is now fully operational in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE).

Investment in the new centre is part of National Grid's annual funding to The University of Manchester of over £1 million.

These new facilities will support research into the reduction of electrical energy consumption and assist the development of renewables, energy storage systems and clean technology.

National Grid, the owner and operator of the transmission network in Great Britain, established a strategic alliance with the University of Manchester in 2002.

The University already boasts the world-class National Grid High Voltage Research Centre, which is the largest University-based facility of its type in the UK.

The relationship between the two parties has resulted in several successful research projects, while students have benefitted from high-quality teaching facilities. Both have also worked with schools to encourage the next generation of engineers.

Prof Colin Bailey, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS), said: “One of great challenges facing the world today is ensuring reliable and sustainable supplies of energy in increasing quantities while also meeting the desire for reduced environmental impact.

“The opening of this faculty in partnership with National Grid is an example of how academia and industry can be aligned to effectively meet tomorrow's energy challenges.

“Only through the combined and coordinated efforts of all major industry participants can we hope to satisfy the expectations that society will place upon us to deliver an energy industry able to meet and satisfy these considerable challenges.”

Chris Murray, National Grid’s Director of Transmission, who opened the Research Centre said:  "The challenges posed by the need to move to a low carbon economy are both pressing and enormous. Similarly the changes that will be needed to both the nature and operation of National Grid’s networks are substantial, hence the role and value of research and development has never been more central to the future success of our company.

“The new Centre will have a significant part to play in developing the changes needed as we move to a low carbon economy. The engineers of tomorrow and the ideas that spring from here will be vital to our business and the country as a whole."

Prof Andrew Gibson, Head of the School of EEE, said: “Investment in these two new labs by National Grid has broadened our research scope and will enhance the capabilities of the University in the education of the next generation of electric power engineers and scientists.”

Notes for editors

Photographs from the opening event are available on request.

For more information please contact Alex Waddington on 0161 275 8387 or 07717 881569.

For more information about the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, please see www.manchester.ac.uk/eee