National Renewable Energy Centre
National Renewable Energy Centre

Nov 23, 2012– Blyth, UK  (Techreleased) – The National Renewable Energy Centre, Narec, opened its doors in Blyth, Northumberland to the local community as part of a UK-wide Open Doors Weekend, organised by UK Contractors Group (UKCG).

The initiative was supported by lead contractor, Shepherd Construction, which is working with Narec to construct three world-class facilities, worth a combined investment of £80m, to help industry deliver lower cost and more reliable offshore renewable energy technologies in the UK.

The weekend events gave the local community the chance to see the extensive regeneration work first-hand, learn more about the challenges and activities involved in building such facilities and to learn what the new facilities mean for Narec, the local supply chain and the UK’s offshore renewable energy industry.

Narec’s Operations Director, Tony Quinn said: “We are very proud of what we have achieved in Blyth to create world-class facilities for the UK’s offshore renewables industry on a site with a great tradition for offshore engineering.  We really enjoyed welcoming visitors onto site to thank them for their on-going support and I hope to inspire a next generation of engineers.”

Thirty students from Ovingham Middle School kicked off the two days of activities with a workshop on Friday morning. Students took part in a wind power challenge to design a prototype turbine using basic materials such as string, paper and pencils capable of lifting a measurable weight.

Science Teacher, Vickie Norton, Ovingham Middle School, said: “I’d like to thank Narec for arranging an interesting, fun and interactive visit. We all enjoyed the day and it was really beneficial for the pupils to hear about the application of and importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects in their day-to-day job.”

Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell joined 40 local businesses and engineering professionals on Friday afternoon for a tour of the new facilities and commented: “It is extremely impressive what Narec has achieved in a short space of time and a great success for the area.”

On Saturday morning over 200 residents from the Blyth area and high school technology students from The King Edward VI School visited two recently-completed facilities: a 900m², 15-metre high building constructed over a dry dock that is enabling the independent testing of tidal turbines in a controlled onshore environment and the world’s largest blade test facility, capable of testing wind turbine blades up to 100m in length.

Construction of the facilities has been complex; requiring precision engineered structural steelwork, heavily reinforced concrete, strong floor system and steel plates to ensure the structures can withstand the extreme forces exerted during testing.

Visitors also got the chance to view on-going construction of the third structure, a 32-metre high facility, which is due to complete in spring 2013 and will become the world’s largest wind turbine drive train test facility to perform reliability and performance testing of new wind turbine nacelles and system components.