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£14.8m deal for testing offshore wind turbines

A £14.8m deal has been signed to build the world’s largest facility for testing offshore wind turbines in Northumberland.

The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth has awarded the contrcat to Shepherd Construction to deliver a the 3,000sq metre building for testing entire offshore wind turbine nacelles of up to 15MW capacity. A nacelle is a cover that houses all of the generating components in a wind turbine, including the generator, gearbox, drive train, and brake assembly.

Tony Quinn, director of major assets and projects at Narec, said it was a signficant deal in the developnment of the site. “This is the third new building being built by Shepherd Construction for Narec in Blyth as part of a £100m investment in the site.”

“The 15MW test facility will be commissioned in the summer of 2013 and will cement our position as a world leading centre for the research, development and demonstration of innovative offshore renewable energy technologies.”

The new structure will be a 32-metre high steel framed building constructed with 1,300 tonnes of steel. To provide sufficient support for the nacelle drive train testing equipment, a 43-metre by 12-metre test bed foundation will be constructed and will be up to four metres deep with pile foundations.

Colin Sargeant, Shepherd Construction east division managing director, said: “We’re delighted to have signed the contract for the third of these unique structures and to be contributing further to the development at Narec that will ensure the UK is a world leader in renewable energy technology. Work will start on the third structure this month and will be scheduled to complete in March 2013.”

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investing £25m in the Narec facility, by providing funding to a consortium of Converteam and MTS Systems Corporation for the design, development and commissioning of the test rig, a world leading large-scale engineering project.

Dr David Clarke, ETI chief executive, said: “The test rig will allow both larger wind turbines to be tested and for a wider scope of testing to take place than is available in current facilities elsewhere in the world.”