Narec builds offshore wind turbine blade test facility

The offshore wind turbine blade testing facility will provide “an independent and confidential environment to accelerate the development of new blade designs before they are taken offshore,” according to Narec.

It could be the largest of its type in the world and expands on Narec’s existing wind turbine blade testing capability developed over the last five years at Blyth, Northumberland, serving the global supply chain and industrial research community.

The offshore wind turbine blade testing facility is jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (£11.5m) and Regional Development Agency One North East (£3.5m).

Andrew Mill, CEO of Narec says: “This funding comes in timely response to calls for improved facilities from project developers and manufacturers who urgently need to validate and improve the future reliability of next generation prototype machines, before they are rolled out in their hundreds under Crown Estate Round 3 plans.

“Future wind turbine blades are predicted to increase to up to 100 m in length and will utilise new materials, for deployment offshore in the UK over the next 10 years and beyond, so it is absolutely vital for the industry that there are suitable facilities in the UK. In order to provide insights into the likely performance of such blades under hostile operational load, there will be an increased level of sophistication in the types of tests to be performed.”

Further proposals for the development of the Narec wind campus over the next five years to support the deployment of Round 3 offshore wind farms, expected from 2014, include a drive train development facility for offshore wind turbines of up to 12 MW and full-scale demonstration capability.