Power engineers switch to unique new lab
Last year's widely disruptive power cuts in the UK, Europe and the United States demonstrated the extent to which we rely on electricity, and the catastrophic consequences to all aspects of our lives when the supply fails. A unique facility being opened this week at the University of Southampton is intended to help avoid these damaging incidents by providing the specialized research and testing facilities on which the power supply industry depends. This Friday (10th September) sees the opening of a major extension to the University's High Voltage Laboratory, more than doubling its size through the creation of a new high voltage hall, in addition to new laboratories providing important new research and testing facilities. Guests at the ceremony will represent the electricity industry and academic research groups throughout the UK. The Laboratory will be officially opened by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bill Wakeham, accompanied by Mrs Susan Davies, who will name the Lab after her husband, the late Professor Tony Davies. It was Professor Davies's vision that led to the building of the Laboratory extension, but sadly he died shortly after completing the plans. The High Voltage Laboratory is therefore a fitting memorial to his life and work. Combining academic research and commercial testing, the new Laboratory will play a major part in enabling the electricity power supply industry to undertake the research and consultancy on which it depends for successful electricity transmission in the future. With the decline of commercial research and testing facilities as a result of reorganization in the power supply industry, the UK desperately needs specialized research laboratories of this kind. "Power engineering is a central feature of our work," says Professor Wendy Hall, Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science. The Laboratory has been extended and updated as a result of Government investment, a significant recognition of the value of our research capability. We are also one of only three UK universities selected to be founding partners in the Power Academy initiative, which will train new graduates for the industry. We now have one of the largest and best-equipped high voltage labs in Europe and fully intend to share our expertise with the electricity industry.