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Jamie Hardesty

£30m energy research and development facility launches in Gateshead

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has today launched InTEGReL (Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory), the UK’s first fully integrated energy systems research, development and demonstration site.

Opened in Gateshead, the site stands as an incubator for cutting edge whole energy systems technology, allowing forward-thinking businesses to test their ideas in real-world conditions, and at a large scale.

Seen as a huge coup in the sector for the region, the development will be operated in collaboration with Northern Powergrid and Newcastle University, in partnership with the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI).

Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “I welcome today’s launch of InTEGReL, the UK’s first integrated energy systems R&D facility.

“As part of our Industrial Strategy this Government is working closely with partners in the energy sector to position the UK at the forefront of global efforts to develop carbon-free energy solutions.

“The InTEGReL project demonstrates how the private sector – working with the UK’s world class Higher Education sector – can take a leading role in helping Britain reach our 2050 emission reduction target.”

NGN has said InTEGReL will tackle the UK’s energy challenges head on, with teams of academics and engineers working to deliver breakthroughs in the decarbonisation of heat, energy storage and transport.

The Energy Networks Association estimates that £80bn of private investment will be made in the UK’s energy networks by the year 2020. If a whole systems approach saved just 5% of that cost, savings of around £4bn could be passed to the customer through energy bills.

The site will feature cutting edge smart grid technology, the latest research into battery storage and be at the forefront of hydrogen expertise, building on NGN’s industry leading H21 City Gate project, which proved that the existing gas network has the capacity to be converted to zero carbon hydrogen.

When completed, the site will host a high tech battery storage and research lab, domestic appliances and smart system demonstration homes as well as hydrogen and CNG refuelling stations for vehicles.

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks, said: “We are delighted to open InTEGReL which we see as another step forward in our work towards a zero carbon energy future.

“The site will bring together the best and brightest in this field and encourage the big thinking that is required if we are to secure, affordable, low carbon energy future.

“At Northern Gas Networks we have been working on our energy future project for a number of years, and this is a big breakthrough.

“Fully integrated energy systems that combine electricity, gas, and renewables to power heating, lighting and transport, can help to reduce the use of primary energy, cut costs and increase the reliability of our energy networks. It really is an issue of national importance and one which we take very seriously.”

Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, added: “I am delighted that Northern Gas Networks, Newcastle University and Northern Powergrid have chosen the North East to launch the InTEGReL facility.

“This is huge vote of confidence in the region which quite literally powered the first industrial revolution and is now at the heart of the UK’s energy future.”

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