The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has announced that it will invest £25m into a state-of-the art, open access, wind turbine drive train test rig seen as crucial for the continued success and further expansion of the UK’s offshore wind industry. The indoor rig will be sited at Narec in Blyth, Northumberland and will be capable of testing complete drive trains and nacelles up to 15 MW. It should be available for commercial testing from June 2013.
Andrew Mill, CEO of Narec, said: “Narec is extremely pleased that the Energy Technologies Institute has chosen to invest in the new 15MW drive train test facility. This terrific news is the culmination of nearly 3 years of work on the project, where we have identified industry requirements for such a facility and then gathered the necessary support to make it a reality for the UK. “Narec is looking forward to working with the appointed consortium to deliver a world leading asset which will generate a substantial return for the UK economy by assisting the acceleration of the deployment of large scale offshore wind energy. “Demand for the facility is high with a number of wind turbine manufacturers already having made a clear commitment to undertake accelerated lifetime testing of their prototype machines in the 5-10MW range at Narec from 2013.
“Narec is providing the route to market for manufacturers looking to sell their wind turbines into the UK for Crown Estate Round 3 developments. Our new 100m wind turbine blade testing facility and a 3MW drive train test facility for both wind and marine applications will be commissioned next year. This 15MW facility will be operational in summer 2013 and we hope to have the first deployments at our proposed offshore demonstration facility in 2014. “Together, Narec’s unique portfolio of independent test and development assets provides the foundation to enable OEMs to demonstrate improved performance and reliability.This will grow the confidence in the sector which is required for future expansion in line with the government’s economic and climate change targets. ETI is investing £25m in the design, development and commissioning of the offshore wind test rig and One North East have invested £10m into the building that will house the test rig.
Alan Clarke, One North East Chief Executive said: “The development of the Fujin Test rig will be a major addition to Narec’s existing facilities and cement the North East’s position at the forefront of the UK’s offshore wind industry, bringing new jobs and investment to the region. “One North East is investing nearly £10m into this project to accelerate the development of wind turbine drive trains. Fujin will complete a decade of investment by the Agency at Narec and will complement the two blade test facilities, offshore demonstration site and marine testing rig. This legacy will allow Narec to offer the full package of offshore and tidal facilities and ensure the North East plays a key role in the development of the UK manufacturing industry.”