Construction of the building that will house a 15MW turbine nacelle test rig at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, Northumberland, has been completed six weeks ahead of schedule.
Shepherd Construction handed over the facility to Narec, which will use the test rig to test the performance of complete nacelles of up to 15MW rating. Installation by GE Energy Power Conversion is well underway, with commissioning due this summer. The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investing £25m (€30m) in its design, development and commissioning.
Andrew Mill, Narec's chief executive, said: "The early completion of building works is a significant achievement and we expect to have completed our first commercial test programme by the middle of next year."
Onshore testing improves the understanding of turbine performance. New designs may be verified and tested under simulated lifetime operating conditions and extreme events, such as storm conditions and electrical failures. Available to all turbine developers on a commercial basis, the rig will be capable of testing turbines of up to 10MW capacity, at up to 50% over power.
"The entire facility is bespoke, designed and built to ensure that larger turbines can be brought into operation sooner. It will have a significant impact on the improved design and operation of offshore wind turbines in the UK over the next 20 years," added Mill. It is part of Narec's wider efforts to spur the development of offshore wind technology. Narec is also planning a 100MW demo site, 6km offshore.