Installation of the 15MW offshore turbine test rig at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) is on track. The drive train testing equipment is being assembled in three stages in the new 3,000m2 hall at Narec's site in Blyth, Northumberland.
Set for completion by the summer, it will allow for the testing of next-generation turbines of up to 10MW capacity.
Narec expects the facility to test 4-7MW turbines initially. Those of 8-10MW capacity would follow. Discussions with turbine manufacturers are ongoing, with a view to appointing a commissioning partner.
Narec's chief executive, Andrew Mill, said: "To fulfil its long-term ambitions the offshore wind industry recognises that it must continue to innovate to reduce the unit price of electricity generated. This requires the development of larger, more reliable turbines and this facility will get new technologies ready for deployment offshore more quickly, ironing out any problems in a controlled, low risk and confidential environment."
The facility is an integral part of Narec's efforts to spur the development of offshore wind technology. It is also planning a 100MW demo site, 6km offshore of Blyth, where 15 turbines arranged in three arrays will be installed. Each array would be no bigger than 33.3MW, so combinations of four 7MW turbines, five 6MW turbines or six 5MW units would all be feasible.