News - Construction News

Giant turbines, bigger funding

The world’s most advanced wind turbine test facility will be built in Blyth, Northumberland, as part of an £86M investment in wind power R&D facilities that will slash CO2 emissions and grow the economy.

The new facility, based at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre will test, validate and certify turbines and is expected to prevent 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions – twice the amount of CO2 emitted by the population of Newcastle in a year – over an eight and half month period, by getting more of the largest and most efficient wind turbines onto the market quicker. This means more of the energy keeping our lights on and heating our homes is from an eco-friendly source.

The funding will go towards building a 150m blade test facility that will replicate the harsh conditions at sea, with potential for future expansion to 180m, with the existing 100m blade test facility being repurposed to increase capacity. This will mean the facility is capable of testing the largest blades currently on the market and in near-future development.

The new R&D infrastructure will support the growth of UK supply chains and the industry’s goal of 60% of offshore wind farm content coming from the UK. It will also encourage investment in our country’s fast-growing offshore wind sector, benefiting our businesses and in turn our economy, while supporting the UK’s commitment to reaching net zero by 2050.

It will help to upgrade the drive train test facility, which tests turbine generators, currently operating at 15 megawatts (MW), to 23MW with a future pathway to 28MW should the industry require it over time – ramping up the power generated and helping to take wind turbine technology to the next level.

The facility – the only site in the world testing both turbine blades and drive trains – will create at least 30 new jobs in Blyth and support five PhDs a year, opening doors for highly skilled and highly paid local jobs to help level up the UK.

Designs are well advanced with a view to commencing construction this summer and to the major upgrade to its 15MW drive train test facility, with both expected to be fully commissioned by 2028.

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