A unique facility for the power cable industry

Through our departments of Engineering, Mathematics and Informatics, we entered a five-year collaborative framework agreement with French multinational energy company Alstom's UK Power and Grid business units. The partnership involved collaboration in research areas related to energy hardware and infrastructure through contract research, consultancy, student projects, and Government schemes such as TSB and Horizon 2020.

The partnership with Alstom was a formalised industrial relationship that was a source of significant value to both parties. We worked together on successful student projects, joint research initiatives and graduate internships, continually building upon our expertise in materials, mathematics, computer science and electrical infrastructure.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Alstom provided a feasible route to focus much needed cable-related knowledge and activities within Alstom Grid (now GE Grid Solutions), since the company was lacking expertise in the manufacture of power cables. This resulted in the development and deployment of a key and unique full-size HVDC Cable Ageing facility that would have not been possible without the focus of a KTP scheme and the hiring of a KTP associate under University leadership.

In addition, our knowledge in HVDC dielectrics and characterisation techniques enabled the initial project specification to evolve and remain ambitious but also achievable. We helped Alstom Grid to secure the necessary relationships with – and participation of – power cable suppliers. Together, we demonstrated that there was sufficient interest and added value in the proposed project for those companies to invest significant resources in producing cables and associated accessories and providing the required manpower to deploy them.

"The expertise that your research group is able to provide is unique within the industry and has proven to produce real impacts."

- Managing Director, ALSTOM Grid Research & Technology Centre