Iberdrola is going to create a new, global smart grid innovation centre to help "lead the energy transition".
The Spanish energy giant – which owns UK utility ScottishPower – is going to bring together 200 technicians, global suppliers and startups to develop R+D+i (research and development and innovation) projects.
It will act as a platform for driving innovations, according to Iberdrola, by combining the company’s technological capabilities with that of suppliers and collaborators from across the world.
The hub will be built at the company's Distribution Operation Center in Bilbao, Spain, and will start operating in Spring 2021. The Provincial Council of Bizkaia is collaborating with Iberdrola on the hub, to facilitate the link between innovation and the financial tools needed to accelerate startup participation.
Already the company has identified 120 innovation projects worth €110 million (£101 million) that it wishes to develop, in the hope of easing the transition to a smart grid using innovative solutions.
The selected projects have a global scope, and could be deployed across the company's electricity network activities in the UK, but also in Spain, the United States and Brazil. Projects will include enhanced digitalisation, data analytics and the resilience and flexibility of the networks, in particular as consumption chases with the growth of electric mobility and self-generation said Iberdrola.
As the share of intermittent renewables grows, the need for a smart grid to manage these fluctuations is growing. As such, Iberdrola has increased its annual investment in R+D+i in renewables, networks, storage and consumer solutions over the past decade to reach a record €280 million (£258 million) in 2019.
Over the last two years, it has developed 85 innovation projects as it looks to secure its 1.2 million km of power lines and more than 4,400 substations, which supply electricity to more than 30 million people worldwide.
In the UK, the need for smart grids has been well established, with the first smart grid opened on Orkney in 2009 – it recently reopened renewable generation and storage connection applications.