From its foundation in 1967, Ormazabal has been aware of the strategic importance of research applied to own technological development. In this way Ormazabal offers quality products and services to the customers and consolidates the leading position in the world’s technology sector.

Location: Bilbao, Spain

The European Energy Transition and the European Green Deal are key drivers of innovation and development prioritising energy efficiency and increasing renewable sources within the power sector, making it essential that the European energy market is integrated, interconnected and digitalised. This has been a driver for the creation and further development of the UDEX research infrastructure and provides the possibility of taking a holistic approach in relating research activities over the different inter-related and interconnected layers of physical systems (components and grids), digital infrastructures, and communications (data/information exchange) to market and business strategies through the use of a flexible and digitalized network.

In 2013, Ormazabal expanded its existing R&D capabilities by constructing its own experimental network laboratory (UDEX, from its Spanish initials) on 3500m2 of land on a new industrial park on the outskirts of Amorebieta, a village 20km from Bilbao. This network consists of more than 15km of underground cables, 500m of overhead lines, more than 70 automated switchgears, as well as an extensive LV network, and was built  with the intention of carrying out research, development and testing for smart grid technologies and applications. In addition, to facilitate access to a smart grid network having a high degree of flexibility, UDEX allows researchers to reproduce real conditions of existing worldwide grid topologies at variable voltage levels from different sources at different power frequencies.

Whether the testing carried out is for a specific technology or a holistic systems approach, a fully automated and digitalised control system is imperative. The UDEX management system (UMS) controls the operation of the infrastructure so that it can be run according to a certain strategy, physically connecting/disconnecting elements, changing network topology by means of a fully automated operation. The facility allows the research and development of the connection, integration and validation of new technologies, assessment of their impact on the network, as well as the holistic view of operation of the complete network.



In early 2020, UDEX was equipped with two new grid simulators. Both are rated 50kVA max power and are able to work as both power source and as regenerative RLC loads. This technology enables the laboratory to expand  in the areas of power electronics, IEC61000-4 and EMC tests .

In addition, in the UDEX there are several test cases with singular capabilities in the specific fields of voltage regulation, MV network compatibility, network diagnosis, powerline communications, and smart metering:

  • Udex IoG (Intenet of Grids): Development, validation and testing of different algorithms of big-data processing that retrieve data from the locally installed LV feeders, Data Concentrators (DC) and smart-meters, this space will also serve as a research baseline for fraud detection and automatic feeder mapping.
  • Regulation of network voltages to maintain quality of supply affected by integration of renewables and/or significant intermittent loads: Functional validation of local or decentralized voltage regulating systems in a real distribution network environment, with different MV Network Configurations, voltage levels (0-36kV), Power Frequencies,  and controllable loads and power injection.
  • Testing of data collecting transmission and processing systems in distribution networks: Functional validation of devices, software and algorithms dealing with data coming from real network environments with different  Network Configurations, neutral configuration, Power Frequency, Network Voltage Level the loads, and power injection to the system are controllable parameters.
  • Asset management of network and its components through online technologies: Functional validation of network diagnostic equipment and systems, from simple detection devices to complete monitoring systems, in real MV network environment. Especially focused on validation of systems to do all or some of the following: Detection, analysis, identification, localization and evaluation of defects arising from PD sources and the communication of this data to supervision interface. Network and neutral configuration, Power Frequency , MV Network Voltage Level , Measurement Bandwidth, defect type and location being controllable parameters to perform the assessment of the system.
  • Testing of functional compatibility of combined sensors with MV & PLC signal measurements in the Medium Voltage Networks: Simultaneous Compliance of Precision & communications performance of combined sensors, using a real distribution network with different components under test (Combined sensors, RTU, PLC modems, measurement cables, MV Network Configurations). Network and neutral configuration, Power Frequency , MV Network Voltage Level , and Communications Bandwidth can be controllable parameters.
  • Testing of functional narrowband powerline communications in distribution networks: Compliance with communications performance requirements, using a real distribution network with different components under test (PLC modems/Data concentrators, Meters, Network Configurations, MV/LV Transformers, Switchgears, Sniffers). Network and neutral configuration, Power Frequency , MV Network Voltage Level , and Communications Bandwidth can be controllable parameters. This system allows also to change the length and type of the LV lines and network topology, the number and type of meters, in such a way that not only individual meters can be tested but also entire meter systems and the interoperability performance.
  • Validation of correct functioning of IED systems in a real network in the face of transient overvoltages / overcurrents occurring during typical switching operations in the MV network: Functional validation of IED’s in a real network environment tested with different MV Network Operations, especially during and after transients occurring during network switching. Neutral configuration, Power Frequency and MV Network Voltage Level can be controllable parameters.

Important tool for the research, development and evaluation of new technologies for the future grid and for anticipating problems, which may appear under the most realistic conditions.

UDEX’s concept consists of a highly configurable distribution network independent from the grid which allows the development and testing of new technologies, products & services in a safe and controlled environment, positioning Ormazabal at the high-end of world-class R&D capabilities, providing the following services (but not limited to):

  • Electrical protections and network automation.
  • Network diagnostic systems.
  • Power Line Communications (PLC).
  • AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructures)
  • Active demand management.
  • Integration of distributed and renewable generation in the grid.
  • Bidirectional power flow.
  • Dynamic configuration of the distribution network.
  • Electric vehicle integration in the distribution network.
  • Integration of energy storage systems.
  • Power electronics.
  • Power quality and efficiency.
  • Impact on the safety (EMF, step and touch voltages, short circuit behaviour

The Research and Technology Center, managed by Ormazabal Corporate Technology (OCT), represents an important leap in the company’s track record; a project that has long been desired and aspires to become a technical reference at an international level, in the field of electrical power distribution networks.

The Research and Technology Center becomes an essential element in R&D projects, with the purpose of acquiring and improving existing technologies and researching new ones.

OCT’s facilities offer their services to the technological scientific sector for performing research testing and for developing and type testing products the electrical sector.

Ormazabal is very active in national and international recognized electrical product and services for the distribution networks relevant for ERIGrid, contributing to the development of common visions, roadmaps and strategies for the energy sector and having an excellent perspective and vision of the future challenges. This networking structure is complemented by a large experience in national and international research projects based on the research and technology development capabilities of OCT. In addition to the UDEX infrastructure offered in ERIGrid, OCT has a high power laboratory, a high voltage laboratory and a low voltage laboratory for equipment testing, being an accredited laboratory according to EN ISO/IEC 17025 for many testing activities.

All the offered experimental systems included in the UDEX are located in the research and technology center of ORMAZABAL Corporate Technology in Boroa (Amorebieta-Etxano), near Bilbao, Spain.

For safety reasons, for critical applications, the users are not expected to operate the systems by themselves; even when safety instructions will be provided, tests will be carried out by OCT staff. For the rest of the applications and after ad-hoc training, the user group will have full access to the related facilities for the duration of the stay (with the support of OCT’s researchers and laboratory technicians when necessary). The scheduling of the experiments will be agreed and booked prior to the stay according to the availability of the involved staff and equipment. Administrative documentation for the access (contract, non-disclosure agreement, etc.) will comply with ERIGrid common indications.

In addition to the general corporate services (Internet connection, canteen, etc.) and the support and advice on accommodation and transportation to OCT’s infrastructure, the access being offered includes supervision and help of OCT’s staff:

  • As a complement to the pre-access contacts between the user group and OCT, the stay will start with an introductory meeting with a senior researcher for confirming the stay conditions (confidentiality, safety indications), scheduling the activities, explaining the on-site procedures, clarifying the logistics and technical details.
  • Preparatory work: a laboratory technician will assist the users for the installation of the devices, electrical connections, use of the specific instrumentation, preparation of a test procedure (if necessary) on the basis of the user’s requests, and programming of the experimental conditions.
  • OCT’s researchers will support the realisation and follow-up of the experiments.
  • OCT’s researchers will support the results interpretation, data processing and analysis, and test report preparation

In principle, a typical stay of 1 month is foreseen for a single user group but this period could be extended depending on the concrete user project. The user group (usually 2 persons) can use the infrastructure for the defined time. Partial or total remote access from the user group (researcher) is available depending on the limitations of the particular project. However, the physical access is preferred at least for the setting-up process of the tests.

Reimbursement of expenses:

User expenses for the lab access are paid by ERIGrid (EU H2020 Programme). This includes travel to UDEX (OCT) by plane, accommodation, daily subsistence, and daily transportation during the stay.

For the user projects taking place in UDEX, OCT will refund the stay expenses when the stay is finished: the user must declare the incurred expenses and present the invoices/receipts to OCT in order to get the refund.

Logical expenses must be made by the user: travels will be made in economy class and conventional hotels (not luxury) or equivalent accommodation will be used. As an indication (it is not a daily allowance), a maximum subsistence fee of 160 €/person must be considered per day.

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