United Kingdom – The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has simultaneously broken ground on an offshore wind robotics centre and a additive manufacturing cell to research next-generation wind turbine blades at its National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.
The £3 million offshore wind robotics centre, which is being built by Durham-based Halls Construction with funding from the UK government’s Getting Building Fund, will be the first of its kind in the UK dedicated to offshore wind, allowing robotic technology developers access to representative onshore and offshore test and demonstration environments. It will also serve as critical R&D infrastructure for the drive to increase robotic intervention in offshore wind farm operations for safety, cost reduction, and efficiency, a market that could be worth £1.3 billion by 2030.
The Getting Building Fund has awarded the North East Local Enterprise Partnership £47 million to support capital investment across the region. Early in the coronavirus pandemic, the Fund was established to jump-start the economy, create jobs, and assist areas facing the greatest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.
A 3D printer and a 6-axis robot with a payload of 165 kilograms will make up the additive manufacturing cell. The new capability will aid ORE Catapult research into new offshore wind turbine blade technology, materials, and manufacturing techniques, including rapid prototyping of vortex generators and edge erosion protection systems. The Catapult’s collaborative work with industry and academia to boost the UK’s position in next-generation turbine blade research and development will be expanded with this new capability.