Work begins on turbine test site

A computer generated image of the development.
A computer generated image of the development.

A CONTRACTOR has landed a £30m deal to build three new facilities to house test rigs at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth.

York-based Shepherd Construction has secured a framework agreement for the project and has already started preliminary work on the site.

The contract is for the 120-year-old firm to construct buildings to accommodate test rigs for full-scale wind and marine prototype devices.

Once operational, the facilities will reinforce Narec’s position as a leading base for the development of renewable energy technologies.

The biggest of the three buildings is a 127m-long facility for testing new designs for wind turbine blades.

Set to be the largest of its type in the world, it will allow the testing of wind turbine blades up to 100m long.

The other buildings are a 41m-long marine renewable testing facility, to be built over an existing dry dock, and a 72m-long wind turbine drive-train testing centre to assess the performance and reliability testing of entire wind turbine nacelles of up to 15-megawatt capacity.

Construction work is expected to get under way in earnest in the next few weeks.

Colin Sargeant, Shepherd Construction’s east division managing director, said: “This is a fantastic contract to have secured, and we look forward to starting work later this month.

“It will require precision engineering of the test beds and complex construction solutions to accommodate the height of the buildings, their location and the unique technology that will be housed.”

Tony Quinn, director of major assets and projects at Narec, added: “These new national facilities will build on Narec’s testing and technology development capabilities to accelerate the technology development and reliability of new wind and marine machines before they are deployed offshore.”