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Optimat is Assisting The National HVDC Centre

Optimat is assisting The National HVDC Centre over the next 18 months with developing its business engagement strategy.


The National HVDC Centre is an Ofgem funded innovation facility whose aim is to assist in the deployment of HVDC Schemes through real-time simulation with replicas. That’s the pitch, but what does that all mean??  High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) is one type of electrical current (you can also have Alternating Current (AC)) used to transport large volumes of electricity over long distances (AC can’t do that). However, AC/DC don’t integrate well.  The Centre models the interaction when that lovely DC electricity arrives into Great Britain’s AC system, to de-risk for the DC source integrating into the AC System.

Any modelling needs to be accurate and to ensure this we use full replicas of the HVDC system controls, and test them  in real-time, so we can see detailed interactions as well as the broader system picture, making it a useful tool to mitigate various risks for any HVDC project. The Centre examines three types of HVDC project; embedded links, e.g. Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission’s Caithness-Moray Project, offshore windfarms who use HVDC, and interconnectors originating from other countries.  To find out more about the technical side of the projects and how integrates into the GB System, Ian Cowan, a Simulation Engineer at the Centre has made two excellent presentations on the subject here.

The Centre is funded through Ofgem’s Electricity Network Innovation Competition, and is a resource available for any HVDC project connecting into the GB system. Through funding from Scottish Enterprise, the Centre is developing its business engagement strategy and Optimat is assisting the Centre over the next 18 months in this project. We are seeking to raise the Centre’s profile and develop key links with industry and relevant stakeholder groups to exploit the potential development of the Centre. There are three components to the work we are undertaking; a new communications strategy, business development and project management of these. With the development of a strong-evidence based communications strategy we aim to communicate in a relevant and consistent manner. This ties to business development, where the focus is on implanting the marketing and communication strategy, reaching out to core target projects and key stakeholders. Currently, we are in the process of planning the annual flagship “HVDC Operators’ Forum” event for HVDC projects; finalising the draft consultation for our academic engagement and planning our summer roadshow to meet the GB HVDC projects. Finally, a key aspect to our work to enable these deliverables is project management, to help them achieve their aims.  To assist with this, Ruth Apps is on secondment with the HVDC Centre for the next 18 months as their designated Business Development Manager.

Simon Marshall, The National HVDC Centre Manager, has this to say about the Centre’s work with Optimat to date: “Optimat has supported the HVDC Centre’s focus on Business Development, from facilitating initial strategy workshops through to the delivery of high-quality literature. This has provided a structured approach to Business Development, resulting in a step-change to our external engagement, which has already started to deliver results.”

Ruth Apps is a Business Development Manager for The National HVDC Centre where she is on secondment from Optimat. She’s currently Optimat’s newest/youngest Consultant. She has an MSc in Environmental Technology with a specialism in Energy policy, and an undergraduate degree in Geoscience, both from Imperial College London, where she turned into a climate change mitigation and sustainability junky. She believes Exeter Chiefs are the best rugby club ever; likes being outside and will drag you to a good botanical garden/beer garden at the first opportunity she has. She owns a food-destroyer in the form of a Labrador called Leyton.

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