£86 million investment in offshore wind research facilities to accelerate UK development of super turbines

Development of the world’s most advanced wind turbine blade and drive train testing assets at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland, set to deliver major boost to UK growth from offshore wind.
£86 million investment in offshore wind research facilities to accelerate UK development of super turbines
Render of ORE Catapult's new NREC, Blyth, Northumberland. Courtesy of ORE Catapult.

Ambitious plans to keep the UK at the forefront of technology development in offshore wind have been given the green light today, with the announcement that UKRI will provide £85.6 million of capital funding for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to expand and upgrade its testing facilities and enable the evolution of the next generation of wind turbines in the UK.

The late-stage research and development facilities, designed for the testing of blades up to 150 metres and drive trains up to 23 MW, combined with ORE Catapult’s extensive expertise in test and demonstration, will ensure that turbine manufacturers can accelerate their technology development in the UK with reduced risk and enhanced reliability for a new wave of larger, more efficient machines. Both blade and drive train capabilities will have the capacity for further expansion, to 180 metres and 28 MW respectively, to meet future industry demand.

The new facilities will enable faster product development of turbines through test, validation and certification and are expected to prevent 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by accelerating deployment by a minimum of eight-months – meaning more of the energy keeping our lights on and heating our homes is from an eco-friendly source. They will also support the growth of UK supply chains, and provide critical research infrastructure to support inward investment into the UK wind industry. They will also create 30 new jobs in Blyth and support 5 PhDs a year.

“Putting pioneering innovation at the heart of the UK’s transition to net zero is the key to protecting our environment in a way which continues to lift living standards” said Science, Innovation and Research Minister, Andrew Griffith. “Our £86 million funding will create highly skilled and highly paid new jobs that grow the north-east and wider UK economies while pulling investment in by marking our country as a leader on technologies of the future and unashamedly open for business. At the same time, it strengthens the UK’s energy security in an uncertain world and helps us pivot towards the cleaner energy that can preserve our planet for generations to come.”

Designs are well advanced with a view to commencing construction in the near future at the Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth of the new blade testing facility, alongside the existing 100 metre blade test hall, and the major upgrade to its 15 MW drive train test facility, with both expected to be fully commissioned by 2028.

“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” added Dan McGrail, RenewableUK CEO. “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.”   

For additional information:

ORE Catapult

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