The demonstration sites have been awarded in response to the offshore wind industry’s need to demonstrate new offshore wind turbines and other technologies in a real-life environment.
The four sites are:
- Gunfleet Sands extension – DONG Energy Gunfleet Sands Demo (UK) Ltd for testing up to two new generations of wind turbines;
- Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Site – National Renewable Energy Centre Ltd (Narec) for a 100 MW grid connected site to test and demonstrate up to 20 offshore wind turbines and associated infrastructure;
- Methil Offshore Wind Farm – 2-B Energy to demonstrate two of its offshore wind turbines; and
- European Offshore Wind Development Centre – Aberdeen Offshore Wind Ltd (owned 75% by Vattenfall and 25% by Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG)) to test and demonstrate up to 11 offshore wind turbines and other technology in Aberdeen Bay.
Rob Hastings, Director of Marine Estate at the Crown Estate, says: “Technical innovation is essential to cutting offshore wind costs. Awarding the four demonstration sites supports the growing UK offshore wind industry’s effort to demonstrate new offshore wind turbines and other technologies in the marine environment.”
DONG Energy Renewables’ Senior Vice President Christina Grumstrup-Sørensen, says: “The Gunfleet Sands site is ideal for demonstrating new offshore turbines given the existing infrastructure that already is installed for Gunfleet Sands 1 and 2. The award will allow us to demonstrate the future offshore wind technologies before commercial scale deployment.”
Narec welcomes site
Narec, which has long planned its 100 MW test site to complement its facilities, also welcome the award. CEO Andrew Mill, says: “This is a hugely positive step forward for the project and strengthens our plans to have the first grid connected pre commercial turbines installed by the end of 2013. The independent offshore facility will be unique in global R&D terms and is the final piece in the Narec jigsaw; establishing the UK’s offshore wind technology testing and demonstration hub in North East England.
“We have recently commenced consultation with stakeholders ahead of formal planning and marine permitting submissions next year. A number of high profile manufacturers have already made solid enquiries for the limited spaces, which will become available at just the right time for the industry as it gears up for Round 3 Offshore Wind.”
Peter Madigan, Head of Offshore Renewables at RenewableUK says: "The UK is already a world-leader in terms of offshore wind deployed and the amount of projects in the pipeline. The proposed demonstration sites will position the UK as a centre of research excellence, encouraging manufacturers to base their operations near such research facilities.
“The offshore wind sector has long been seen as a side-arm of onshore wind but today’s announcement is an important step towards offshore wind becoming a mature technology its own right, fulfilling its potential as a major electricity supplier of the future.”