SSE and Scottish Enterprise (SE) are to invest up to £20 million to create an offshore wind turbine test centre, capable of hosting three full scale wind turbines designed for offshore deployment.
SE has committed up to £4.3 million from the National Renewables Infrastructure Fund towards the joint venture with SSE which will in turn invest around £15 million in the site.
The test centre will be located at the port of Hunterston on the coast of North Ayrshire, a site already earmarked for potential renewables supply chain development in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan.
SSE will work with its supply chain partners Siemens and Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe to test their latest turbine technology on two of the berths. The third berth will be operated by Scottish Enterprise and will be leased to a turbine manufacturer which has firm plans to invest in the Scottish off-shore wind supply chain.
The new funding was announced by First Minister Alex Salmond at the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference today (Wednesday 10th October 2012).
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “As the global wind industry looks further offshore, towards the deeper waters of the world’s 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.”
Hunterston’s wind resource, which replicates offshore conditions, coupled with its existing grid connection - make it an ideal site for the testing facility which has a key role in developing Scotland’s offshore wind supply chain. The advantage of testing turbines on land is that it permits the manufacturer 24 hour access to make modifications and repairs, which is critical particularly for early series prototype turbines.
Scottish Enterprise has worked closely with SSE Renewables to develop the project and the joint funding will contribute towards the infrastructure needed to develop three turbines at the site over the next five years.
Lena Wilson chief executive of Scottish Enterprise said: “We know that offshore wind is a rapidly expanding, long term, global market, with significant low carbon economic growth opportunities for Scotland.
“There are currently no test sites of this kind in the UK and 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.”
SSE’s 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.”
The main civil works at the site will start this autumn, with the erection of the meteorological masts. This will be followed by turbine works due to begin in March 2013. The first of the new turbines are scheduled for delivery to Hunterston by sea by next summer and weather permitting, should be erected late 2013. Once the new turbines are in place, there will be a few months of testing and commissioning before the site becomes fully operational next year.
SSE’s Project Manager, Hamish Oag, said: “Beginning the construction works is a key milestone for us. We are working closely with RSPB and have agreed to cease construction during the key winter months out of respect for wintering birds. Even with this commitment, we are still on track for the main construction phase to be completed by late summer 2013.”
Notes to editors
National Renewables Infrastructure Fund
Essential port and manufacturing infrastructure is widely recognised as an obvious fundamental to the successful attraction of potential investors and Scottish Enterprise, in conjunction with the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and industry partners, has been working to map out the necessary infrastructure and investment. The resulting £70 million National Renewables Infrastructure Plan and Fund attracted strong interest with applications from a wide range of port operators and consortia looking to upgrade facilities to provide essential manufacturing, test and demonstration infrastructure for offshore wind supply chain.
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