The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have just announced funding of £4.7M for “HubNet: Research Leadership and Networking for Energy Networks” in which the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory will be playing a key part.
The award aims to develop the research agenda that will overcome the problems of improving efficiency and maintaining reliability of the UK energy supply. In addition, the Laboratory has also secured funding from the National HE Stem Programme in order to develop resources for graduate skills development within the energy industry.
Professors Lewin and Swingler are leading the Hub’s activities at Southampton which are related to ongoing research within the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory. It is planned to consider how new materials (such as nano-composite insulation and ceramic composites) can be used to design power equipment that is more efficient and compact. In addition, the management of transition assets will be considered: while a significant amount of new network equipment will need to be installed in the coming decades, this new construction is dwarfed by the existing asset base. It is thus essential to study how the life of existing equipment can be extended under what is likely to be far more extreme conditions.
“The Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory has an established international reputation for its research in the areas of new insulating materials and condition monitoring of high voltage plant”, said Professor Paul Lewin, “It is very exciting that we will be making a significant contribution to the future directions of UK research in these areas, through our involvement with HubNet”.
It is not just development of the new network and its effective operation that needs to be considered, but also the development of the next generation of Power Engineers who will design, implement, manage and maintain future networks. The high voltage laboratory has a strong record and reputation for research-led teaching and this has been recognised in an award of £150K from the National HE STEM programme for graduate skills development of the energy industry. This will provide electronic resources as work packages to graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to develop the skill sets they require for a career in the energy industry. These work packages will also be made available through the Energy and Utilities Sector Skills Council National Skills Academy for Power to the current workforce as a means to up skill recent graduates from a non-electrical engineering background or not holding a STEM degree.
“Working with members of the Tony Davis High Voltage Laboratory at the University of Southampton, we are planning a complete range of innovative electronic study resources using the latest technology to train the next generation of Power Engineers” said Professor Averil Macdonald, Regional Director of the HE STEM Programme at the University of Southampton. “Through the HE STEM Programme we will make these resources freely available to all UK HEIs as well as to power industry professionals”.