The £35m facility is being built by Narec, the national renewable energy test centre in Northumberland. It will provide Narec with a controlled environment to test the next generation of offshore turbines in accordance with international standards before they are deployed.
Piling has begun on the site at one of Narec’s sites in Northumberland – 292 piles will be drilled to 19m deep, ranging from 450mm diameter to 900mm diameter. When fully commissioned in summer 2013, the 15MW facility will be the most advanced of its type in the world.
To provide sufficient support for the rig, a 43-metre by 12-metre test bed foundation will be constructed to a depth of 4m. This will be contained within a 32-metre high steel framed building constructed with 1300 tonnes of steel. The access door is 20m x 20m and two tower cranes will lift test pieces into place.
Tony Quinn, director of major projects and assets at Narec, commented: “[This facility] will accelerate technology development and time to market for the UK offshore wind industry. It will provide Narec with a controlled environment to test the next generation of offshore turbines in accordance with international standards, before they are deployed in large numbers offshore.”
The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investing £25m in the Narec facility, by providing funding to GE Energy – Power Conversion and MTS Systems Corporation for the design, development and commissioning of the test rig.
ETI chief executive Dr David Clarke, said: “The test rig that will be housed on the Narec site is the biggest project to date commissioned by the ETI and has seen us invest over £25m in its design, development and commissioning.”
One North East is a development agency, which sets and implements agendas for the region’s economic and business development and regeneration. It invested £10m in the building to house the rig.