Blyth to get world’s most advanced wind turbine test plant in £86m scheme

Artist's impression of new ORE Catapult facility at Blyth
Artist's impression of new ORE Catapult facility at Blyth -Credit:ORE Catapult

The world’s most advanced wind turbine testing facility is to be built in the North East, creating a number of jobs and putting the region at the front of the burgeoning renewables industry.

The development at Blyth, Northumberland, comes as part of an £86m Government investment in wind power that aims to create growth while slashing carbon emissions. The new Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult facility will test and certify 150m-long turbines blades, with the capacity to expand to test 180m-long blades in the future, meaning it will be able to verify the world’s longest blades.

The launch of the site - which will also test the latest drive-train technology, enabling manufacturers to develop and improve their products more quickly - means ORE Catapult can expand and upgrade its testing facilities in Blyth and enable the evolution of the next generation of wind turbines in the UK. The new facilities will allow faster product development of more efficient and powerful turbines, supporting the growth of UK supply chains. They will also create 30 new jobs in Blyth.

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Work on the site is expected soon, with the hope of building on the success of the existing Catapult facilities at Blyth. The centre has played a key role in the development of Dogger Bank giant wind in the North Sea, which has brought hundreds of jobs to the North East.

Science, Innovation and Research Minister Andrew Griffith, 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 £86m 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 the cleaner energy that can preserve our planet for generations to come.”

Andrew Jamieson, ORE Catapult chief executive, said: “This investment in truly world-leading capability will keep the UK at the forefront of offshore wind technology development. It will enable ORE Catapult to continue to deliver the most advanced research and development infrastructure and expertise to the offshore wind industry, capturing the jobs and economic growth from the transition to a Net Zero economy”.

Joanne Leng, chief executive of North East renewables body NOF, said: “This is fantastic news for Blyth and indeed North East England as it will act as a significant driver for regional industrial and economic growth. It firmly positions the region at the forefront of the UK offshore wind industry, and as a global leader in technology development. The investment will drive jobs, investment and innovation in the regional supply chain involved in the Energi Coast cluster and ensures that North East England will continue to play a pivotal role in powering the next generation of offshore wind turbines and O&M activities.”