New UK Offshore Wind Blade Test Facility Planned

Narec, a group that provides R&D, consulting, test and demonstration services for the renewable energy in the UK, announced that it plans to build a new £15 million facility for testing offshore turbine blades of up to 100 meters in length.

The new facility is expected to provide an independent environment to accelerate the development of new blade designs for offshore wind turbines before they are taken into the field for real-world testing.

The facility will be the largest of its type in the world and expands on Narec’s existing blade testing capability developed over the last five years at Blyth, Northumberland, serving the global supply chain and industrial research community.

The  project is jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which will provide £11.5 million, as well as the Regional Development Agency One North East, which will provide £3.5 million.

“This funding comes in timely response to calls for improved facilities from project developers and manufacturers who urgently need to validate and improve the future reliability of next generation prototype machines, before they are rolled out in their hundreds under Crown Estate Round 3 plans,” said Andrew Mill, CEO of Narec. “Future wind turbine blades are predicted to increase to up to 100m in length and will utilise new materials, for deployment offshore in the UK over the next ten years and beyond, so it is absolutely vital for the industry that there are suitable facilities in the UK. In order to provide insights into the likely performance of such blades under hostile operational load, there will be an increased level of sophistication in the types of tests to be performed.”

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