Construction workers have successfully delivered the first stage of an offshore wind power demonstration site, three nautical miles off the coast of Northumberland.
The £24 million project was commissioned by the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) as a testbed and a centre of excellence for wind energy technology.
Construction is now complete of the project’s first stage – a tripod platform built in water 37 metres deep. Capped by a meteorological mast that reaches 103 metres above sea level, it will provide essential data on wind conditions and be the focal point of the proposed Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Site.
The demonstration site will ultimately see up to 15 prototype wind turbines built in three rows in the sea around the platform.
The 15 spots will be leased by turbine manufacturers and utility companies to test the performance of their latest turbine designs.
Turner & Townsend programme managed the overall programme, and negotiated all contracts for the construction both of the platform and of a series of larger onshore testing facilities.
The onshore site, at Blyth in Northumberland, includes a test rig that can measure the strength and efficiency of wind turbine blades of up to 100 metres in length.
Narec’s goal is to help the UK gain a competitive advantage in offshore renewable energy technology – wind, wave and tidal - and meet the government’s target of a Britain that gets 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Andrew Mill, Chief Executive of Narec, commented: “The offshore platform’s installation represents a significant step forward for the demonstration project, which has been designed to enable the commercialisation of the next generation of offshore wind turbines
“The platform provides a shop window in water depths of between 35m and 58m for tenants to prove the performance and durability of larger prototypes and early-series production models.”
John Laverick, Project Director at Turner & Townsend, added: “Our great challenge with this project was to bring together some very different sector disciplines, and to assemble a team with expertise in both onshore and offshore projects.
“We led the project from the design and contract negotiation phase, through to on-shore fabrication and offshore installation. The result is a highly advanced platform that is tough enough to withstand the worst the North Sea can throw at it. Its successful installation is a tribute to the dedication and expertise of our engineering partners SeaRoc and MPI.”