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Mega UK offshore wind turbine test rig on track for summer launch

A new offshore wind turbine testing rig – billed as “one of the world’s largest facilities for the accelerated life testing of offshore wind turbines” – is on track for a summer launch at the UK renewable energy test facility Narec, the test site reported late last week.

 According to Narec, the rig will be ready for the arrival of a commissioning turbine nacelle by mid-2013. Two 250-tonne cranes have been installed for assembly of the rig, while a 120-tonne, 6 metre-diameter motor rotor drum, has already been delivered to site.

Due to its scale, the assembly of the 15MW test rig is being done in three phases: Permanent Magnet Motor (PMM), Force Application System (FAS) and support systems. 
Once assembled, the facility will be open to all turbine developers on a commercial basis and will be able to test turbines up to 10 MW at up to 50% over power. 
Narec expects that it will initially be used to test prototype and early development models currently available in the 4-7MW class, and then for the next generation of 8-10MW machines.
The company believes that the rig will play a key part in helping the industry meet the UK government’s challenge to cut the cost of offshore wind development to £170/MWh by 2020.
“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,” said Andrew Mill, CEO at Narec. “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 Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a public-private partnership between global industries and the UK government, is investing more than £25 million in the design and build of the test rig, in an effort to support the improved development of new offshore turbines, and to help improve the UK supply chain.
“This facility will recreate the full dynamics of wind on turbine drive trains,” said Andrew Scott, offshore wind programme manager at the ETI, said:  “Testing the performance of new drive trains at full-scale, before serial production, helps to improve their reliability, reduces risk and accelerates offshore deployment.  It should also encourage market competition which further reduces the cost of offshore wind energy and has been designed to accommodate the projected growth in turbine size over its designed 20 year life.”
Narec said it is currently in commercial discussions with turbine manufacturers interested in becoming the commissioning partner for the new facility.

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Wind power