UK’s Offshore Wind Test Facility Gets $100M Overhaul Boost

(Credit: ORE Catapult)
(Credit: ORE Catapult)
(Credit: ORE Catapult)
(Credit: ORE Catapult)

Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, U.K.’s flagship center for renewable energy innovation, has secured $108 million investment to expand and upgrade its testing facilities to support the development of the next generation wind turbines.

The investment, provided by U.K. Research and Innovation (UKRI) deliver two critical developments at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.

These include the construction of a new 150-meter blade test facility, with potential for future expansion to 180 meters, alongside the existing 100-meter blade test facility that will be repurposed.

Also, an upgrade to the drive train test facility, currently operating at 15 MW will be conducted to bring it up to 23 MW with a future pathway to 28 MW should the industry require it over time.

This transformative investment in testing assets is expected to ensure that the business retains the capability of supporting the offshore wind industry’s largest testing and validation requirements, as well as keeping the U.K. at the forefront of technology development in offshore wind.

Once completed, the new assets will represent the most complete set of resources worldwide for the de-risking of new offshore wind technology through accelerated learning in a controlled environment, according to ORE Catapult.

The new infrastructure is expected to increase both reliability and investor confidence in next generation wind turbines and will ultimately contribute to net zero becoming a reality.

ORE Catapult noted that the designs are well advanced with a view to starting construction of the new blade testing facility, alongside the existing 100-meter blade test hall, and the major upgrade to its 15 MW drive train test facility, in the near future, with both expected to be fully commissioned by 2028.

“Putting pioneering innovation at the heart of the U.K.’s transition to net zero is the key to protecting our environment in a way which continues to lift living standards.

“Our $108 million funding will create highly skilled and highly paid new jobs that grow the north-east and wider U.K. economies while pulling investment in by marking our country as a leader on technologies of the future and unashamedly open for business.

“At the same time, it strengthens the U.K.’s energy security in an uncertain world and helps us pivot towards the cleaner energy that can preserve our planet for generations to come,” said Andrew Griffith, U.K.’s Science, Innovation and Research Minister.

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