THE first phase of a project to create three renewable energy test facilities in Blyth is under way.
Main contractor Shepherd Construction is in the process of pouring a mass of concrete into a dry dock at the town’s port to create the base for one of the new facilities currently being built on behalf of Narec (National Renewable Energy Centre).
The programme, comprising three pours of mass concrete and a series of further additions of reinforced concrete, will eventually use a massive 7,000m cubed of concrete.
This stage of the construction programme is due to be completed by the end of this month and will create hard standing that will be at the right depth to withstand the rigours of the specialist apparatus that will operate with the Nautilus marine renewable energy testing facility.
After this, work on the steel frame of the building will begin.
Shepherd Construction’s east division managing director, Colin Sargeant, said: “It is great to see the first main phase of the construction programme under way.
“The concrete pour is more technical than it sounds and needs to be done in stages, hence why it is being carried out over several weeks.
“We will begin erecting the 15m high steel frame of Nautilus in early summer.”
Nautilus is the first of the three full-scale marine and wind test facilities being built at the centre, and will enable Narec to reinforce its position as a leading hub for the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies.
The other two facilities will be a 127m long by 25m facility for testing new designs of wind turbines that will be the largest of its type in the world, and a 72m long by 31m turbine drive test training facility.
A spokesman for Narec said it was hoped the facilities would be operational at the start of next year.