Iberdrola's Hub in Bilbao consolidates its position as the world centre for innovation in smart grids

•    Inaugurated half a year ago at its Larraskitu centre, the Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub already has more than 60 collaborating entities and companies

•    Iberdrola invested more than 337 million euros in R&D&I in 2021, 15% more than the previous year, and part of the resources were allocated to projects related to smart grids

Six months after its inauguration, Iberdrola's Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub (GSGIH) in Bilbao is consolidating its position as the world centre for innovation in smart grids. There are already more than 60 collaborating entities and companies for the development of grid digitalisation solutions, integration of renewables, deployment of electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

According to Noemí Alonso, director of the Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub in Bilbao, "the work we carry out at the Hub is channelled through three main lines: development of scalable projects in other countries where Iberdrola has a presence as an energy distributor; market-oriented projects in areas such as digitalisation, grid automation and cybersecurity; and the generation and attraction of talent in close collaboration with universities, young entrepreneurs and collaborating companies".

Iberdrola invested more than 337 million euros in R&D&I in 2021, 15% more than in 2020. Part of the resources have been directed to projects related to smart grids. It should be noted that among the achievements of the GSGIH in these first months of operation is the identification of R&D&I projects underway for a total estimated investment of 32 million euros in Iberdrola Redes España.

"Electricity grids are going to play a fundamental role in the energy transition and in the processes of the electrification of the economy. They are going to have to be transformed in a very profound way, we are going to need grids that are more digital, more flexible and resilient", explained Javier Arriola, director of i-DE's Northern Region.

The Iberdrola Hub, which has the collaboration of the Provincial Council of Biscay, is a hub for innovation and open collaboration to develop solutions between manufacturers and startups. In this way, it promotes innovation projects in smart grids that respond to the challenges of smart grids in the coming years.

This collaboration is key to the generation of projects in which i-DE and iNET30 technical experts transparently analyse, together with the most active companies in R&D&I, the needs of the Business in order to prioritise the lines of work in the new technologies available.

In the same way, the challenges proposed by the Hub stimulate the development of possible solutions, thanks to the startups. At the moment, there are already 4 International Challenges launched from the GSGIH with the focus on attracting startups. 

The Hub's growth pole 

This public-private collaboration space -with more than 1,000 m2 and located at Iberdrola's network headquarters in Larraskitu- is a pole of attraction for talent and the promotion of new technologies that will make the energy transition possible, maximising the use of renewables, fully integrating energy storage systems and optimising access to new uses of electricity, such as mobility and air conditioning. Moreover, it is also an international collaborative project, bringing together the potential of more than 200 professionals in the development of innovation projects to be developed in countries in Europe, America and the Middle East. 

The Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub also promotes knowledge transfer through scholarships and postgraduate degrees; serves as a catalyst for business development through startup incubation and acceleration programmes; and active competitive intelligence actions, such as the design of global conferences. 
Another focus of action revolves around the connected worker and the robotisation of operations, with the aim of making use of sensorised equipment to receive real-time information on risks. It also uses terrestrial and aerial robots (drones) to perform operations remotely, avoiding travel and working more safely and efficiently.

The Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub is connected to the Biscay Startup Bay strategy, as it will also become a scaleup location for startups in the energy sector that set up in the Biscay Tower.