GE Renewable Energy and the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult announced have signed a five-year research and development agreement which will see GE’s mammoth 12 megawatt (MW) Haliade-X wind turbine head to UK shores for the first time for extensive testing.
The five-year research and development agreement was announced on Tuesday, and will see GE’s 12 MW Haliade-X and its existing Haliade 150-6MW wind turbine head to the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s 15MW power train test facility in Blyth, Northumberland for advanced test and demonstration programs that accurately replicate real-world operational conditions in an effort to provide enhanced performance and reliability.
The ORE Catapult bills itself as the UK’s leading technology innovation and research center for offshore renewable technology, and is aiming to be the world’s leading offshore technology center by 2023. The Catapult will provide GE Renewable Energy with a wide variety of testing for its turbines, including cooling technologies, converters, loading conditions across mechanical and electrical components, grid testing, and design validation.
GE Renewable Energy announced the 12 MW Haliade-X earlier this year, depicting a wind turbine which measures in at 260 meters in height and boasting a 220-meter rotor. Each individual wind turbine is capable of generating 67 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually — enough to power up to 16,000 homes on its own.
The research and development agreement that was signed between the two organizations will seek to specifically improve turbine platform availability and reliability through highly accelerated life testing — essentially doing a life-span assessment in a much shorter period of time — accelerate prototype certification through rigorous functional testing, and validate the designs, upgrades, and new technologies.
“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,” said John Lavelle, president & CEO of GE’s Offshore Wind business. “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.”
In addition to the R&D activities between ORE Catapult and GE Renewable Energy, the newly-signed agreement also includes a £6 million (US$ 8.5 million) investment with Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to build the world’s largest and most powerful grid emulation system at the Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth. The new installation will allow companies and researchers to better assess the interaction between large-scale wind turbines and the electrical distribution network across a variety of environments.
“This collaboration is great news and highlights our world-class research and testing facilities,” said Claire Perry, UK Government Energy & Clean Growth Minister. “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.”
“This is exactly the sort of collaboration that will ensure the UK continues to build on its global leadership in offshore wind energy,” said Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council and UK country manager for Ørsted. “This five-year research and development partnership will not only advance new technologies but also empower the UK supply chain including smaller SMEs to innovate and grow.
“Cutting edge innovation is a cornerstone of the ambitious sector deal which the industry aims to agree with Government. It is truly driving our vision for 2030 of a globally leading supply chain, and generating a third of the country’s electricity from offshore wind”.
“Today’s agreement is another vote of confidence in the UK as the home of ground-breaking offshore wind technology and in the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult as a global test centre,” added RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck. “Offshore wind is a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. The UK is the world leader for offshore wind and has a vibrant export market; we must keep innovating to stay in front as the global renewables sector comes of age.