15 April, 2024: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has invested £86 million ($108 million) in offshore wind research to enhance the testing facilities at Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland. This investment aims to support the development of next-generation wind turbines by upgrading the centre's testing assets for wind turbine blades and drive trains.

The upgraded facilities will be equipped to test blades up to 150 metres and drive trains up to 23 MW. Additionally, there will be capacity for future expansions to 180 metres for blades and 28 MW for drive trains, accommodating the evolving needs of the industry.

These advanced testing facilities will facilitate faster product development through rigorous testing, validation, and certification processes. The enhancements are expected to reduce risks and increase the reliability of larger, more efficient turbines. By accelerating turbine deployment by at least eight months, the new capabilities are projected to prevent 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Moreover, the initiative will create 30 new jobs in Blyth and support five PhDs annually. With designs well advanced, construction is set to begin soon alongside the existing 100-metre blade test hall. The comprehensive upgrade to the 15 MW drivetrain test facility is also part of this project, with both facilities expected to be fully commissioned by 2028.

In a press release published by UKRI, Andrew Griffith, Science, Innovation and Research Minister said, “Putting pioneering innovation at the heart of the UK’s transition to net zero is the key to protecting our environment in a way which continues to lift living standards. Our $108 million funding will create highly skilled and highly paid new jobs that grow the north-east and wider UK economies while pulling investment in by marking our country as a leader on technologies of the future and unashamedly open for business. At the same time, it strengthens the UK's energy security in an uncertain world and helps us pivot towards cleaner energy that can preserve our planet for generations to come.”

As the UK positions itself as a leader in innovative renewable technologies, these advancements will drive sustainable growth and contribute to the global effort to combat climate change, ensuring a cleaner and more secure energy future for generations to come.