Placement helps energy software company develop prototype

Jordan Robinson

Placement helps energy software company develop prototype

A North East business is developing innovative technology which allows National Grid to control wind turbines remotely, thanks to a partnership with Teesside University.

Sedgefield-based Quorum Development provides electronic data transfer (EDT) and electronic dispatches and logging (EDL) interfaces to National Grid. 

Jordan Robinson, an MEng instrumentation and control graduate, developed an interface that connected Quorum’s software to a wind turbine during a four-month work placement at Quorum as part of his Master’s degree.

The company recently showcased a working prototype of this system using the software built by Jordan, which attracted considerable interest at a major industry conference for the energy sector.

Quorum is now investigating possible industry partnerships to use this technology and is considering the possibility of a further partnership with Jordan and Teesside University.

The remote-control system Jordan designed will make it much simpler for National Grid to automatically control wind turbines, many of which are in remote or hard-to-reach places.

Jordan said: “The model I have developed proves the principle of the software and demonstrate that it works in practice.

“It was fantastic to work on a real-life project such as this and put the theoretical knowledge which I learned on my degree into practice.”

Paul Fothergill, technical director of Quorum, said: “The placement has been a real success and the model that Jordan has developed has given us the confidence to go forward and start developing this software further.

“We can now demonstrate that we have an end-to-end system that works. We have already had a lot of interest when we demonstrated it at the All Energy Conference in Glasgow.”

The MEng Instrumentation and Control Engineering helps students develop their knowledge and skills in instrumentation, electronics and advanced control engineering.

Throughout the placement, Jordan was supervised by Dr Michael Short, a reader in control and instrumentation in the school of science, engineering & design.

Dr Short said: “We are delighted that this placement was so beneficial to Quorum. It initially developed from some consultancy work that I did with the company and it’s been fantastic to help them with a placement and hopefully further partnership.

“From an academic point of view, working on real-life projects like this is a good way to apply our research, and it helps inform our teaching. It also gives us insight into the current needs of industry so that we can ensure that our graduates are ready to meet the challenges of the workplace when they leave the University.”