UK’s First Offshore Wind Robotics Centre Breaks Ground

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s Centre in Blyth, North East England, has simultaneously broken ground on a multimillion-pound offshore wind robotics centre and a manufacturing cell that will be used to research next-generation wind turbine blades.

UK government’s Getting Building Fund will finance the offshore robotics centre with a total of GBP 3 million (approximately EUR 3.5 million). The civil work is being performed by Durham-based Halls Construction.

The centre is set to be the first of its kind in the UK committed to offshore wind, enabling robotic technology developers to access representative, onshore and offshore test and demonstration environments.

The multi-million UK based centre will increase robotic intervention in the safety, cost reduction and efficiency of offshore wind farm operations by forming key R&D infrastructure, a market potentially worth GBP 1.3 billion, according to ORE Catapult.

The additive manufacturing cell will consist of a 3D printer and a 6-axis robot with a 165Kg payload.

The new capability will reinforce ORE Catapult research into new offshore wind turbine blade technology, materials and manufacturing techniques, including the rapid production of prototype blade enhancements such as vortex generators and edge erosion protection systems.

The new R&D centres will build on the Catapult’s collaborative work with industry and academia which aims to improve the UK’s position in next-generation turbine blade research and development, the ORE Catapult stated.

“These investments underline the Catapult’s commitment to supporting the UK’s rapidly growing offshore wind sector from Blyth, remaining at the forefront of technology development and research. This is crucial as projects to deploy the largest offshore wind turbines in the world gather pace, and so accelerating UK-led technology and research to market becomes a priority – and that’s a role Catapult will continue to play with its latest research and development assets“, said Tony Quinn, Test Facilities Director at ORE Catapult.

Back in 2019, ORE welcomed Haliade-X 12 MW blade in Blyth, the UK. The blade underwent advanced testing procedures to demonstrate its ability to withstand peak wind conditions and simulate its readiness for years of operation at sea.

A year later, ORE Catapult invested in a prototype blade manufacturing facility at its National Renewable Energy Centre. The project aimed to prove technologies that can reduce blade production costs and increase production speeds.

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