National Physical Laboratory

Energy sector


The energy sector faces new challenges, including responding to low carbon legislation, use of sustainable materials, ensuring a diverse and secure supply, and managing and updating the current infrastructure. NPL works with energy companies to help extend life and improve efficiency of existing plants develop an intelligent grid system and respond to the challenge of simultaneously managing climate change and affordability.

How NPL Can Help?

  • Supporting traditional power generation - From nuclear to oil and gas, NPL can help power generation companies with the measurement required for trading, plant integrity and environmental monitoring. Good measurements can increase plant assurance, improve plant optimisation and improve asset through life management. Bringing increased efficiency and innovation to traditional systems is our focus.
  • Plant life integrity - NPL's condition-monitoring capabilities can increase your knowledge of plant life integrity, plant assurance, maximise revenue from plants and assets while ensuring legislation compliance and working to safer levels. Our corrosion modelling, accelerated ageing techniques, sensor characterisation and advanced measurement techniques enable companies to reduce the risks of product failure through the monitoring of complex structures in challenging environments.
  • Measurement standards and testing - Accurate measurement continues to be a vital aspect of the work of the UK nuclear industry. We help companies comply with legislation and reduce costs through correct sentencing of nuclear wastes. NPL provides world leading standards for natural gases. Our research provides traceability for new energy gases such as LPG and LNG which are becoming an increasingly important part of the UK's energy mix.
  • New materials adoption - NPL's expertise in the area of advanced materials can be used to assess the use of new materials in new or demanding applications by helping you understand properties, performance and durability over their lifetime of use ensuring the right decisions can be made for their implementation.
  • Nuclear waste - Through our knowledge in the area of radioactivity standards and radiochemical analysis, we can work with the nuclear industry to make waste classification more cost effective and achieve significant waste volume reduction.
  • Intelligent Grids -; With the introduction of smart metering into the energy grid, knowledge of their accuracy and performance under variable loads is needed. NPL can work with companies to develop and validate their smart meters under a range of conditions to validate their performance. NPL is also developing the necessary technology for high accuracy on-site power and power quality measurements.
  • Renewable energy technologies - as energy from renewable sources becomes more widely used, the challenges that need to be overcome before they make a significant contribution to the grid needs to be addressed. NPL's capability in the areas of corrosion, surface engineering, composite materials, environmental testing, acoustic monitoring and condition monitoring can be used by companies developing products for renewable technologies to ensure their robustness in challenging operational environments can be achieved
  • Large volume metrology (LVM) - The LVM facility at NPL is only one of a handful in Europe and can be used to measure objects or features over one meter in size. NPL can tailor solutions that meet the needs of manufacturers of wind turbine blades, where sub-millimetre accuracies are needed to ensure matching of the blades.

NPL is working with companies in the Energy sector to develop and provide measurement capabilities, standards and infrastructure that will support innovation in low carbon energy, enable diversity of supply options, extend life and improve efficiency of existing plants along with the development of an intelligent grid system, which will allow for energy security, climate change and affordability to be addressed simultaneously, helping stimulate the UK energy economy.

For more information, please contact us

With our multi-disciplined approach, NPL can work with your businesses across most areas of the energy sector, from nuclear waste classification through to the development of new materials for renewables such as wind and tidal energy. Our expertise, driven from our understanding of the importance of measurement and how to utilise it to overcome technical barriers and help drive innovation, makes NPL a valuable partner to have in any research and development programme.

Challenge Driven, Solution Focused

Our expertise and innovation eliminates the need for specialist in-house resources, reduces technical risk and can deliver revenue, cost and time savings for complex technical challenges. For over 110 years we have solved real world government and business problems and today this is applied to global customer requests from a range of markets. NPL solutions are delivered in world-class research facilities using the outputs from significant research programmes supported by government and have been shown to be world-leading in over 80% of science areas.

Customers have access to over 500 multi-disciplinary scientists, along with an extensive national and international network of partners. Our collaboration network of other science organisations, industry, academia and international laboratories prove invaluable to deliver the requirements of our customers who range from government departments, start-ups to large global multinational corporations.

NPL is working with the energy sector by developing solutions driven by your challenges through the application of cutting edge measurement that meets our customer's needs.

Our capability includes:

Power quality measurement for smart grid instrumentation

Temperature measurement for plant performance optimisation

Gas metrology to support industry standards

Corrosion testing for asset performance in marine environments

Material characterisation for renewable energy technologies

Radiochemical analysis and reference standards for the nuclear industry

Structural Health / Condition monitoring for plant life cycle management

Instrumentation - validation and optimisation

Power quality measurements for high-accuracy on-site measurements

Training and skills development

Working with business and industry, NPL's Research and Development programmes focus on identifying and addressing customer needs, ensuring our expertise and knowledge is always relevant and easily applied by our partners.

The Power Networks Demonstration Centre (part of the University of Strathclyde) is a key collaborative partner of the National Physical Laboratory.

University of Strathclyde Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) logo

For more information, please contact us


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