The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult) and Advance Northumberland have partnered to develop a new U.K.-based facility for testing the next generation of advanced offshore wind turbines, in a move designed to attract inward investment into the county linked with the rapidly expanding offshore renewable energy sector.
The Energy Central Offshore Wind Demonstrator project is being proposed in addition to Energy Central’s £30 m Energy Park that is already under development. Located on a brownfield site to the north of the former Blyth power station in the parish of East Bedlington, the facility will prove a key attraction for investors considering locating turbine manufacturing facilities in Northumberland, which could lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs and an investment of millions of pounds into the local economy.
The site will be designed to host one large prototype turbine for testing at a time, in an easily accessible location, hoping to attrac equipment manufacturers to test innovations at the component level. The turbines that will be tested at the proposed facility would be up to 300 m in height.
The Demonstrator site will be locally managed by ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Center in Blyth. ORE Catapult has extensive experience of operating and maintaining offshore wind turbines through its ownership of the 7 MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife, Scotland.
“This is a development that would put South East Northumberland well and truly on the map by bringing next-generation offshore wind turbine technology to the market,” says Tony Quinn, director of test facilities for ORE Catapult.
“A prototype site builds on the unique cluster of offshore renewable energy expertise, innovation and skills already present within Energy Central, making us an even stronger proposition to attract overseas investment to the North East and further support the U.K.’s position in offshore wind,” he adds.
A planning application is being prepared for October/November and a program of public consultation will start in August. If planning permission is granted for the project, then the first turbine would be installed for testing in 2022.