GE Renewable Energy and the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have signed a five-year research and development agreement to test and develop next-generation offshore wind technologies.
GE’s recently announced Haliade-X 12 MW offshore wind turbine and existing Haliade 150-6MW will undergo advanced test and demonstration programmes that accurately replicate real-world operational conditions to enhance performance and reliability. Testing will take place at ORE Catapult’s 15MW power train test facility in Blyth, Northumberland.
Research and development activities will include cooling technologies, converters, loading conditions across mechanical and electrical components, grid testing and design validation. This collaboration will drive technology improvements that will also help to develop the UK supply chain and increase access to demonstration opportunities for innovative small businesses.
Welcoming news of the agreement, UK Government Energy & Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry, said: “This collaboration is great news and highlights our world-class research and testing facilities. Through our Industrial Strategy, we are making the UK a global leader in renewables, including offshore wind, with more support available than any other country in the world. With 22% of all investment in European wind projects coming to the UK, the offshore wind industry is exceptionally well placed to boost supplies of home-grown clean energy whilst growing new jobs and opportunities.”
John Lavelle, President & CEO of GE’s Offshore Wind business, said: “This is an important agreement because it will enable us to prove Haliade-X in a faster way by putting it under controlled and extreme conditions. Traditional testing methods rely on local wind conditions and therefore have limited repeatability for testing. By using ORE Catapult’s facilities and expertise, we will be in a better position to adapt our technology in a shortened time, reduce unplanned maintenance, increase availability and power output, while introducing new features to meet customers’ demands.”
ORE Catapult Chief Executive, Andrew Jamieson, said: “This five-year collaborative programme with GE Renewable Energy is a testament to the Catapult’s world-class engineering, research and development capabilities across all aspects of wind turbine development and performance.
“By working closely together in areas such as power trains, blades and electrical infrastructure, we look forward to helping GE to both enhance their existing portfolio and bring new products and services to the offshore wind market, while simultaneously generating significant economic growth opportunities in the UK.”
In addition to the R&D activities, the agreement also includes a £6 million (US$ 8.5 million) combined investment with Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to install the world’s largest and most powerful grid emulation system at the Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth. Supplied by GE Power, Grid Emulation, in conjunction with the Catapult’s power train test facilities, will enable the partners, UK companies and researchers to better assess the interaction between the next generation of large-scale wind turbines and the electrical distribution network in the most challenging environments.