Call for £1/3 Billion Investment to Take Global Lead in Proving out Offshore Wind

published: 2012-05-29 16:13 | editor: | category: News

Narec has launched a procurement process to identify industry partners to collaborate on the build out of the 100MW Blyth Offshore WindDemonstration Site, off the coast of Northumberland, UK.   The project, the largest demonstration site in the UK, is now in a position to leverage the additional investment that will make it a world-leading proving ground for novel and cost reducing offshore windtechnologies.

Andrew Mill, CEO of Narec, said, “The turbines to be installed will be fleet leaders, a Formula 1 class of offshore machines, and the site will provide the catalyst for taking these next generation technologies through to full production.  By speeding up the accreditation process and building greater certainty in the investment markets, it will introduce more market competition in the UK and will significantly reduce project risk and bring forward deployment timescales".

Narec has applied for the offshore permit and expects to complete this process by end of the year. 15 pre-consented pods will be on offer, organised in three arrays at water depths representative of planned UK projects and ranging from 38m to 57m. The opportunity is being advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) as 3 lots, each lot comprising an array of 5 pods.  Spaces are limited and are expected to be highly sought after.

Andrew adds, “Through consultation to date with OEMs and developers we have been inundated with interest in the site.  With a lease from the Crown Estate, an offshore permit application submitted and the infrastructure arrangements in place, we expect demand to outstrip supply.  The facility will be ready for the first deployments in 2014 and will be key for project developers looking to inform their procurement strategies for Round 3 and Scottish Inshore Water projects.”

With open access and market competitiveness as fundamental principles, Narec’s preference is to award a works concessions contract for each array to a different operator, but organisations can still apply to be considered for more than one array.  Development programmes on the demonstration site can be complemented by accelerated lifetime testing of components and systems onshore, to drive further innovation and cost reduction in the sector.

Andrew adds, ”We can test the blades and drive trains to be deployed offshore and effectively age test pieces, ahead of the demonstration of offshore prototypes and Series Zero components.  Extreme load events at the fleet leaders recorded offshore can also be replayed in our onshore test facilities to explore specific failure modes.  These integrated testing, development and demonstration assets make Narec a major driver for the UK to reduce the costs, while facilitating an increase in electricity generation from offshore wind.”

Successful applicants will deploy next generation systems to a combined project maximum of 100MW installed grid connected capacity.  Each contract awarded will include procurement, installation, commissioning and operation of an array up to 35MW and the scope of works will include, but not be limited to, final geotechnical investigations, foundations, tower, turbine equipment and relevant offshore cabling.

Narec is undertaking a competitive process to select those applicants best able to deliver the maximum benefit to industry commensurate with appropriate public procurement rules.  The PQQ process will assess expressions of interest on technical, financial and health & safety criteria.

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