UKRI funding to drive development of super-turbines

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has provided £85.6m of capital funding for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult Innovation Infrastructure project to expand and upgrade its testing facilities in Blyth, Northumberland.

Described as the world’s most advanced wind turbine test facility, it will be able to replicate the sort of conditions that could be expected at sea, with the aim of developing a 150-metre blade, three times Angel of the North’s wingspan.

ORE Catapult was established in 2013 as the UK’s innovation centre for offshore renewable energy, supported by the UKRI Infrastructure Fund, set up to create a long-term pipeline of research and innovation investment over the next 10 to 20 years.

The facility is the only site in the world testing both turbine blades and drive trains and the expansion will create around 30 new jobs in Blyth and support five PhDs a year.

The drive train test facility which currently operates at 15MW will now be upgraded to 23MW, with a future expansion to 28MW possible if the industry requires it over time.

The facility will be able to test of blades up to 150m in length with a similar potential for expansion – up to 180m – if required in the future.

The new facilities will also enable faster product development of turbines through test, validation and certification, getting the turbines deployed at least eight months earlier. This eight month acceleration of the process will prevent around 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions – double the amount emitted by the population of Newcastle each year.

Dan McGrail, RenewableUK CEO, said: ‘Investing in ground-breaking research to develop the next generation of turbines is vital if this country is to retain its position as a global trailblazer in innovative offshore wind technology in the face of strong international competition.

‘Last month we launched an Industrial Growth Plan for offshore wind which shows how proactively focussing on high-value components such as blades will boost the UK’s economy by £25 billion and support an extra 10,000 jobs over the next ten years. We have an excellent opportunity to build up new offshore wind supply chains, and the cutting-edge work being done by our colleagues at ORE Catapult will help us to achieve this.’




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