Operations director appointed at leading energy centre

The multi-million pound Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) has moved a step closer to completion following the appointment of Dr Iliana Portugues as Operations Director.

Dr Portugues attended a ‘topping out’ ceremony at the Cumbernauld site of the £12.5 million centre that will accelerate the adoption of new, ‘smart’ technologies, from advanced power grids to electric cars and intelligent household appliances.

A leading figure in the energy industry, Dr Portugues previously worked as a senior project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute in California. She also founded a University spin-out company, Elimpus – which provides products and services for monitoring electricity sub-stations using radio frequency measurements.

Dr Portugues said: “It is a pleasure to accept this appointment and be given the opportunity to drive this world-class facility forward. The Power Networks Demonstration Centre epitomises how collaboration between industry, the public sector and academia can turn great ideas into reality.

“We are living in a time with rapid and sometimes unpredictable changes within the electricity sector. The development of a fully-fledged resilient, low carbon economy requires upgrades to our electricity infrastructure alongside deployment of embedded sensing, computing and communications.

“The centre will provide a unique environment to test and demonstrate these new technologies in a controlled and safe environment. This will speed up the development of the technology while reducing delivery risk.”

The world class research centre, which is the first of its kind in Europe, will open later this year. It is being created by the University of Strathclyde and leading energy companies including ScottishPower and SSE, with support from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council.

Working with a mix of Scottish, UK and international partners, the PNDC will be committed to testing and deploying new low carbon technologies by providing an environment to trial them more quickly and effectively under a range of challenging system scenarios.

Professor Graeme Burt, Director of the University of Strathclyde’s Institute for Energy and Environment, and Power Networks Demonstration Centre project director, said: “I am delighted to have Iliana join the team, and I am confident that under her leadership the centre will quickly earn recognition as a key facilitator of technology acceleration and adoption. This will support lower cost integration of low carbon solutions.

“The experience that Iliana brings will support strong and effective cooperation with both established industry players, academic research teams, and the newly emerging smart grid players.”

The PNDC aims to set new standards in electrical distribution with a focus on a range of technology streams, including: network management, technology and devices; integration of distributed generation; protection and monitoring; and smart grid-enabling technology.

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