The National Energy Research and Demonstrator (NERD) project

Ayrshire Growth Deal

The National Energy Research and Demonstrator (NERD) project is one of a raft of projects funded by the Ayrshire Growth Deal

Background to the Ayrshire Growth Deal

The Ayrshire Growth Deal (AGD) is an ambitious multi-million pound investment package that aims to transform the Ayrshire economy. The UK and Scottish Governments will invest over £200 million with additional financial support from the three Ayrshire Councils. Among the proposed projects are an Aerospace and Innovation centre at Prestwick airport, an Ayrshire Manufacturing Investment Corridor at Bellfield, a subsea fibre optic cable in Irvine and the NERD project in Cumnock. The AGD should create around 7,000 jobs across Ayrshire over a 15 year period.

What is NERD?

The NERD (National Energy Research and Demonstrator project) is an innovative and forward thinking project which will set a ground breaking precedent for the way in which we heat and power our homes and meet the energy demands of our communities. Using environmentally friendly technology to provide sustainable and reliable energy at affordable prices, it aims to address climate change and fuel poverty. The project will benefit Cumnock residents, promote best practice and make Cumnock a more attractive location for investors and new businesses.

NERD  aims to research and develop new ways to generate energy (electricity and heat) from a variety of renewable sources (wind, solar, heat from water and from the ground) while meeting the energy needs of everyday life. It will:

  • explore and put in place a new locally based combination of renewable technologies and supporting infrastructure to provide electricity and heating to homes in East Ayrshire (with, for example, electricity from a windfarm and heat extracted from mine water)
  • develop a Centre for Excellence, of national significance, which will be a knowledge and demonstrator hub where students and researchers can investigate and trial new energy systems to be used within our communities.
  • house space for specialist energy companies to work from and feed into the research and provide assistance in rolling out the technologies in the area.

How much money has been allocated to NERD?

  • The project has been allocated £24.5million comprising £17 million allocated by the UK Government and £7.5 million from East Ayrshire Council.  

When will NERD begin?

  • It is due to commence in 2023, or earlier, and should be delivered over an 8-9 year period. The benefits of the project will be felt by communities for years to come.

 The support of East Ayrshire communities within the NERD project area will be vital to the success of this project .The Council is keen to hear the views of communities on the proposals. We will be running a programme of community engagement events. These will be advertised in the local press and on East Ayrshire Council’s website and social media.

The first such events were held on Monday 12 August. 

Aspirations/potential benefits of NERD

  • NERD aims to make East Ayrshire communities energy “self-sufficient” so that they can generate, use and store their own energy and are not wholly reliant on the existing national grid.
  • With the Scottish Government declaring a climate emergency, the shift to a low carbon economy will be a major national and international focus over the coming years, affecting many aspects of everyday life. The NERD project will position Cumnock at the forefront of the field in terms of responding to this challenge.
  • It will explore the potential to develop and launch a local energy company offering reduced energy bills.
  • The project will develop the technology to ensure that all Council and public transport is powered by locally produced very low or zero carbon energy (electric or hydrogen) and will put in place infrastructure for electric or other zero carbon vehicle charging points for general public use.
  • Research and knowledge gained from this project will be available locally for the benefit of existing businesses; the knowledge base will attract new energy hungry or technologically advanced companies wishing to take advantage of the new energy grid or the concentration of energy expertise in the local area. The Centre of Excellence will broaden and extend the range of job opportunities within the Cumnock area particularly within the engineering and energy technology sectors and will provide local as well as other university students with a “hands-on” experience of developing new technologies while working with SMART technologies of the future.
  • The Centre of Excellence will foster links with schools across Ayrshire to offer unrivalled Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) courses to pupils.

What is happening now?

  • The Council are preparing the final documents for the project which will be submitted to the UK and Scottish Governments at the end of August 2019.
  • Once these documents have been signed off by both Governments, the money for the project will be unlocked and the project can begin (around 2021).
  • A programme of community engagement and information events will be carried out in 2020.

Useful links

 The project will work in conjunction with University of Strathclyde's Energy Systems Research Unit and the Energy Technology Partnership. 

Read our press release about NERD

See our community presentation 

See the presentation made to the community event by University of Strathclyde


Take our survey

Contact Information

Planning and Economic Development
Opera House
8 John Finnie Street
Telephone: 01563 576790