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by Sofia Villegas
14 May 2024
New major investment in UK offshore wind to accelerate global decarbonisation, experts claim

New multi-million funding announced for offshore wind | Alamy

New major investment in UK offshore wind to accelerate global decarbonisation, experts claim

The UK Government has invested £85.6m in one of its flagship innovation centres to accelerate the development of next generation offshore wind technology. 

Delivered by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the investment will help deliver the “world’s most advanced” wind turbine components. 

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult has secured the funding to upgrade its testing facilities.

Located in Blyth, Northumberland, the catapult’s National Renewable Centre will build pioneering turbine blades and drive train assets.

Turbines and drive trains are key components of the energy conversion and production process within wind power systems; hence both significantly influence the systems' performance level.  

The new components are expected to make national offshore wind projects “more cost-competitive” and to be exported internationally, accelerating the pace of “global decarbonisation”, Richard Sandford, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, claimed.

Dan McGrail, chief executive for Renewable UK, added: “Investing in ground-breaking research to develop the next generation of turbines is vital if this country is to retain its position as a global trailblazer in innovative offshore wind technology in the face of strong international competition. 

“Last month we launched an industrial growth plan for offshore wind which shows how proactively focussing on high-value components such as blades will boost the UK’s economy by £25bn and support an extra 10,000 jobs over the next ten years. We have an excellent opportunity to build up new offshore wind supply chains, and the cutting-edge work being done by our colleagues at ORE Catapult will help us to achieve this”.    

The facilities will test blades of up to 150 meters and drive trains of up to 23MW, which will allow manufacturers to create a new wave of larger and more efficient machines, experts believe. Both blade and drive train capabilities will also have the capacity for further expansion to 180m and 28MW to meet future industry demand.

By streamlining the production process of turbines, researchers expect their deployment to speed up by at least eight months and claim this would cut 2.5m tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The facilities will also support the growth of national supply chains and provide critical research infrastructure to support inward investment into the UK wind industry.

Designs are well advanced with construction of the new blade testing facility set to finish soon. Meanwhile, the existing 100m blade test hall and the major upgrade to its 15MW drive train test facility are expected to be fully commissioned by 2028.

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