SSE and Scottish Enterprise (SE) say they are investing up to 20 million British pounds to create an offshore wind turbine test center capable of hosting three full-scale wind turbines designed for offshore deployment.
The test center will be located at the port of Hunterston on the coast of North Ayrshire, a site already earmarked for potential renewable energy supply-chain development, the companies say.
SSE will work with its supply chain partners, Siemens and Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe, to test the companies' latest turbine technology on two of the berths. The third berth will be operated by Scottish Enterprise and will be leased to a turbine manufacturer that the companies say has firm plans to invest in the Scottish offshore wind supply chain.
According to SSE and SE, Hunterston's wind resource, which replicates offshore conditions, coupled with its existing grid connection, make it an ideal site for the test facility. The advantage of testing turbines on land is that it permits the manufacturer 24-hour access to make modifications and repairs, which is critical, particularly for early-series prototype turbines, the companies add.
The main civil works at the site will start this fall, with the erection of the meteorological masts. Turbine work is scheduled to begin in March 2013, and the first of the new turbines are scheduled for delivery to Hunterston by next summer and should be erected by late 2013. Once the new turbines are in place, there will be a few months of testing and commissioning before the site becomes fully operational.