Turbine test centre should boost Scotland’s wind energy industry
SSE and Scottish Enterprise fund £20m technology development project.
(Blowing in the right direction: Test centre is expected to open next year)
A £20 million test centre for offshore wind turbines is to be established in Scotland.
Energy company SSE and Scottish Enterprise are to fund the project, which will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The test centre, which will be located at the port of Hunterston on the north Ayrshire coast, should be fully operational next year.
It will have three berths for testing full-size turbines and SSE – which is investing £15 million in the project – will work with its partners Siemens and Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe to develop their latest turbine technology on two of those.
Scottish Enterprise, which has committed up to £4.3 million from the National Renewables Infrastructure Fund, will lease the third space to a turbine manufacturer which has firm plans to invest in Scotland.
The centre will replicate offshore conditions, but by keeping the turbines on land manufacturers will have 24-hour access to make any repairs and modifications needed during the testing process.
First minister Alex Salmond said: “As the global wind industry looks further offshore, towards the deeper waters of the seas and oceans, Scotland is ideally placed to become a key hub for the design, development and deployment of next-generation turbine technologies.
“We must continue to provide the optimum technical, investment and natural environment for this important industry so I’m delighted that, through Scottish Enterprise, we are able to work with one of Scotland’s great innovating companies on this key offshore wind project.”
SSE finance director Gregor Alexander said: “We are pleased to be working with Scottish Enterprise to develop the UK’s first offshore wind-turbine testing facility of its kind. This ground-breaking venture will be an important stepping stone towards fulfilling renewables targets in an affordable way in our move towards a low-carbon economy.”
Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “Offshore wind is a rapidly expanding, long-term global market, with significant low-carbon economic growth opportunities for Scotland.
“The development at Hunterston will give us a significant competitive advantage in this market – helping to establish Scotland as a centre of expertise in offshore wind research, development and manufacturing.”