TECNALIA, a research and business development firm based in Spain, has invested €14 million in its new Research, Development and Certification Laboratories for Electrical Equipment for Smart Grids. The facilities, located at the Bizkaia Science and Technology Park in Basque Country, Spain, will provide support to research development and innovation in the electricity sector in Bizkaia, while still maintaining its international recognition.
The laboratories form part of TECNALIA's InGRID experimental infrastructure for smart grids. Together with existing facilities, the new laboratories complete TECNALIA's global offering in low, medium and high voltage electricity research. These European facilities focus on smart grids research and will service the electrical equipment goods manufacturing sector as well as utilities.
Laboratories to enhance smart grid research
The laboratories, described as a leading example of sustainable architecture, in both energy efficiency and structural design, inhabit a total area of 3,500 square meters. The High Voltage Laboratory stands out in this infrastructure as the largest independent High Voltage Laboratory in Spain and Portugal.
TECNALIA will make this new experimental infrastructure available for the industrial and the scientific-technological communities to test the equipment and systems that will integrate and configure the power grids of the future. These new facilities will contribute to strengthening the role of electrical power as the most efficient energy transfer medium, with the ability to respond in real-time to the needs of generators and consumers.
The facilities provide the industry, universities and research centres with a set of advanced experimentation platforms to develop services and conduct research, in order to achieve more efficient and smarter management of electrical power throughout the entire process: generation, transmission, distribution, and end use.
Basque Country’s focus on smart grid research
Energy is one of the main entrepreneurial sectors in the Basque Country. The new facilities will provide support to the electricity sector entrepreneurial network in the Basque Country in order to develop innovative and competitive products on a global level.
The new facilities are in-line with the Basque strategic smart specialisation priorities established in the RIS-3 Strategy for the Basque Country.
The Basque technology strategy (EnergiBasque) prioritises seven technology types, based on the region's industrial, technological and research strengths. In the area of power transmission and distribution, the country’s focus is on smart grids in response to an attempt to establish the Basque power industry as an international reference in this field. The Basque Government is participating in a model public-private project (Bidelek Sareak) jointly run by Ente Vasco de la Energía and Iberdrola Distribución Eléctrica.
Bidelek Sareak is an initiative of the Basque Government through its energy agency, Ente Vasco de la Energía and Iberdrola Distribución Eléctrica to provide smart grids in urban and rural areas that will increase the efficiency and security of the power supply. The main challenge for these smart grids is to develop a more flexible, robust and secure system which will benefit power distributors, users and the business community.
The Basque Country now has 230,000 smart meters, advanced technologies in 1,100 transformer centres and three modernised power substations with digital technology.
Smart grid research is critical
Smart grids and renewable energy sources have become, in their own right -and due to the needs of companies and society at large- the priority areas for research centres in Europe.
The opportunity created by hosting this infrastructure is obvious, since it provides decisive technological support for landmark projects that will be developed in the Basque Country for years to come and the world will have the opportunity to learn from them.