Sunderland low carbon centre will be a European first

Development work is well underway for a national centre for low carbon vehicle technologies in Sunderland

An artist's impression of the new Future Technology Centre in Sunderland
An artist's impression of the new Future Technology Centre in Sunderland

Development work is well underway for a national centre for low carbon vehicle technologies in Sunderland.

The Future Technology Centre is owned and managed by a partnership of Zero Carbon Futures and Gateshead College, and is aimed at driving the UK’s transition to a low carbon future.

The centre, which will be open for business next year, lays the foundations for the country to fortify its position as a European leader in the development and implementation of such technologies. “This is a major development in the UK’s goal of becoming a leader in low carbon vehicle technologies, especially the ongoing integration of electric vehicles and exploring subsidiary use of their technologies,” said Dr. Colin Herron, managing director of Zero Carbon Futures.

“The Future Technology Centre is the first of its kind in Europe and will become a real demonstrator of e-mobility technologies, bringing together a research and development centre, a testing laboratory, proximity to the UK’s only electric vehicle (EV) performance test track, office and incubator space to develop a low carbon community that promotes knowledge transfer and project collaboration.”

The centre, which will span almost ten acres, is located in the heart of the North East’s automotive district, near the Nissan Sunderland site.

It was given planning approval earlier this year under the Local Development Order (LDO), designed to fast-track planning applications within 28 days when developments fit in with the surrounding site.

The facility will be home to academic research, automotive supply chain operations, and skills and training provision to act as a springboard to real-world adoption of new and emerging technologies.

It will also enable research into such diverse areas as propulsion techniques, including induction charging and hydrogen, as well as smart home technologies like vehicle-to-home and battery second life projects.

“Having the R&D centre, development and testing laboratories, and performance test track all on the same site is a real boon for low carbon technologists,” Herron added.

“It will allow breakthrough developments in useful technologies that can be implemented not just in EVs, but also the home. Zero Carbon Futures is already working on a project with tadea that explores the second life of EV batteries for utilisation in the home, as a storage source of power linking with photovoltaic panels – the potential for this project is extremely exciting and indicative of our work to look beyond simply putting EVs on the road.”

The new centre is financed in part by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

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