The Crown Estate will take action soon to encourage an increase in the number of sites available for testing offshore turbines, as part of its effort to support development of the UK offshore wind sector.
The UK urgently requires greater capacity for offshore testing of turbines. All the machines to be deployed on Round 3 projects will need to have been assessed prior to commercial installation and very few have gone through the process thus far.
Speaking with Windpower Offshore, the Crown Estate's director of energy and infrastructure, Rob Hastings, said that an announcement is likely to made in September. This may take the form of a competition open to turbine manufacturers, providing access to offshore test sites.
Over the summer, the Crown Estate will focus on determining the testing requirements of UK project developers, and will investigate whether developers might accept alternatives to the classic two-year test for turbines. It may be that multiple models of the same turbine design can be tested simultaneously, in order to reduce the total testing period needed, suggested Hastings.
The Crown Estate's efforts to boost the UK's testing capaiclity will include support for a rapid launch of existing plans for offshore test sites off Blyth in Northumberland and off Aberdeen. The establishment of additional sites may also on the cards.
Last month, the National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth announced it is seeking £333m in investment in order to proceed with plans for an offshore turbine test site with a capacity of 100MW.