ORE Catapult new facilities

ORE Catapult Secures GBP 86 Million for Wind Turbine R&D Facility Overhaul

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has secured nearly GBP 86 million (approximately EUR 99.9 million) capital funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to enhance its wind turbine blade and drive train testing facilities in Blyth, Northumberland.

ORE Catapult new facilities
Source: the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

The late-stage research and development facilities, designed for the testing of blades up to 150 metres and drive trains up to 23 MW, will ensure that turbine manufacturers can accelerate their technology development in the UK with reduced risk and enhanced reliability for a new wave of larger, more efficient machines, said ORE Catapult.

Both blade and drive train capabilities will have the capacity for further expansion, to 180 metres and 28 MW, respectively, to meet future industry demand, according to the UK centre.

Construction of the new assets in Blyth is expected to be completed by 2028.

“The blades and drive trains which will be tested by world-class experts in Blyth are expected to make UK offshore wind projects even more cost-competitive, and see supply chain companies exporting this technology overseas, adding value to the UK’s economy and helping to accelerate the pace of global decarbonisation,” said Richard Sandford, Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council.

The new facilities could enable faster product development of turbines through testing, validation, and certification, and are expected to prevent 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by accelerating deployment by a minimum of eight months.

According to ORE Catapult, the new facilities will create 30 new jobs in Blyth and support five PhDs a year. In addition, they will support the growth of UK supply chains and provide critical research infrastructure to support inward investment into the UK wind industry.

Recently, RenewableUK, the Offshore Wind Industry Council, The Crown Estate, and Crown Estate Scotland published an Industrial Growth Plan, setting out how to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next ten years in the UK.

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The UK offshore wind industry already employs 32,000 people and each new large offshore wind farm adds GBP 2-3 billion to the economy. Employment is set to rise to over 100,000 by 2030 and investment in new offshore wind projects is expected to create an economic opportunity worth up to GBP 92 billion for the UK by 2040.

The UK has the second-largest global pipeline of offshore wind projects at all stages of development at nearly 100 GW – more than six times its current capacity.

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