Construction begins on the world?s largest wind turbine drive train test facility

Piling has started on the site of a new £35m wind turbine drive train testing facility at Narec in Northumberland. 292 piles will be drilled to 19m deep, ranging from 450mm diameter to 900mm diameter. When commissioned in summer 2013, the 15MW capacity test facility will be the most advanced of its type in the world, providing 6 degrees of freedom for applying load forces.

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 2 x 250 T cranes will lift test pieces into place.

Tony Quinn, Director of Major Projects and Assets at Narec, said: “It’s great to see works starting on site for this world-leading facility, which 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.

Dr David Clarke, ETI Chief Executive, 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. It will be a world leading large-scale engineering project and we look forward to the site being developed and taking shape over the next few months.”

One North East invested £10 million in the building to house the rig. Narec is the UK’s national translational research centre for accelerating grid integration of renewable energy systems and catalysing the development and deployment of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy generation technologies.

The 15MW drive train test facility will be commissioned in summer 2013. The ETI is investing £25m in the design, development and commissioning of the offshore wind test rig and One North East will invest £10 million in the building to house the rig.