The new offshore wind turbine blade and tidal turbine drive train testing facilities, opened by the Duke of York, are the result of a combined investment of £33.6m by UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund.
Andrew Mill, Chief Executive at Narec, said: “these two new facilities were conceived by our own engineers and have been delivered...to meet market needs for testing larger offshore wind turbine blades and prototype tidal turbines. Each facility is world-class in its own right and together with our existing capabilities they provide the most comprehensive facilities anywhere in the world to enable the scale-up of renewable energy technologies offshore.”
Both open-access facilities have been designed and commissioned for full-scale design verification and accelerated life testing of major components for research, development and certification purposes.
Completed in August of this year, what Narec say is the world’s "largest open-access blade test facility" is ready for commercial operations. To accommodate the deflection on blades of up to 100m in length, construction of the 5,700m² steel frame structure incorporated techniques used during the building of the Beijing ‘Birds Nest’ Stadium. It is 123m in length, with a 74m unsupported structured span, and has a 15m high concrete superstructure test hub.
Nautilus, a 3MW capacity drive train testing facility for tidal turbines has recently completed its first client test for Atlantis Resources.
According to Narec, accelerated life tests, conducted from the relative sanctuary of an onshore test facility, will significantly advance the development cycle for tidal turbines and give developers in the UK the edge as the marine energy industry approaches commercialisation. The Atlantis programme at Narec included full load-running testing on its AR1000 turbine; by doing this Atlantis has secured performance data equivalent to several months of operation in the sea.
Andrew Mills added: “The UK is the biggest market opportunity in the world for offshore renewables and the increased investment to come through the Levy Control Framework must be targeted at innovation in the supply chain which will reduce the cost of energy generation offshore and maximise the economic benefit and jobs created. Our reliability, design verification and accelerated life testing facilities are attracting world-leading technology developers to the UK to get new technologies ready for deployment offshore more quickly, ironing out any problems in a controlled, low risk and confidential environment.”
On his visit The Duke of York also took a tour of a third facility currently under construction for the testing of large offshore wind turbines. The £45m facility will be operational in spring next year with a first customer commissioning to follow in summer 2013.
Want to see a video of the 3MW drive train facility? Click here