Open-access wind-turbine test rig

Plans to design the world’s largest open-access offshore wind-turbine drive-train test rig have been announced by the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

Two companies – Converteam and Horiba Instruments – are delivering competing designs for the indoor test-rig, which will be capable of dynamically testing a complete wind-turbine drive train and nacelle with input power up to 15MW.

The two competing designs will be presented to the ETI at the end of May and it is anticipated that one preferred contractor will then be selected to procure, build and commission the rig, which should be operational by the end of 2011.

The test-rig design specification is a result of nearly two years of engineering development and industry consultation by Narec and ETI.

The rig, to be built in the UK, will be designed to allow the whole turbine nacelle to be tested onshore and indoors before being taken offshore, thus reducing the technical and commercial risks of mass production and deployment.

The test rig is planned to be built at the Narec site in Blyth, Northumberland and located alongside Narec’s facilities for testing wind-turbine blades and marine energy systems.

The Narec site is located near Dogger Bank, which will be home to the largest wind array outlined in Round Three of the Crown Estate’s programme.

Regional development agency One North East is investing slightly less than £10m in developing the building and infrastructure to support the new test rig.