18/05/2012

Construction completes on first of three world-class buildings for testing offshore renewable technology

Shepherd Construction has completed the first of three new structures being constructed at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, Northumberland.

The three structures form part of Narec's £80 million+ investment in world-class facilities for the testing of offshore renewable technologies.  The new facilities being constructed will enable the accelerated lifetime testing of turbines and blades to develop improved reliability and reduce the financial risks associated with deploying untested prototype technologies offshore.

First completed, the 3MW input capacity Drive Train Test Facility will test tidal turbines in a controlled environment out of the water.  The test rig is currently being assembled and will be commissioned later this summer using the Atlantis Resources AR1000 turbine.

At 900m2 and rising 15 metres high above the existing dock, the new steel structure has been a complex engineering project with construction over a dry dock requiring a huge in-fill exercise comprising three mass concrete pours and a series of further reinforced pours.  To withstand the weight of the steel frame and the rigorous testing procedures that will operate within the building, the structural slabs were heavily reinforced with large grade steel and the 3.2 metre thick top slab required a precisely engineered solution to an accurancy of 0.3mm.

Andrew Constantine, commercial director for Shepherd Construction commented: "We're delighted to handover the first of the new facilities and see the culmination of a complex project, which has required extremely close partnership working with Narec and the team of specialist engineers and designers to deliver such a precisely engineered solution."

"We're delighted to play a role in supporting Narec's vision for advancing and accelerating the world's offshire renewable energy industry."

The second building,  which will enable the testing of wind turbine blades up to 100 metres in length, will complete later this summer and will become the largest testing facility of its kind.  This will be followed in 2013 by the completion of the world's largest wind turbine drive train test facility, enabling the testing of turbine nacelles up to 15MW capacity.