UK renewable ‘Catapult’ launches 7MW ‘game-changer’ offshore wind turbine test facility in Fife

The Levenmouth offshore wind test turbine
The Levenmouth offshore wind test turbine

The Offshore Renewable Energy-Catapult has ‘launched’ its 7MW demonstration offshore wind turbine in Levenmouth, Fife.

Acquired by ORE-Catapult from Samsung Heavy Industries in December 2015, it is the world’s most advanced, open access, offshore wind turbine dedicated to research, and offers complementary opportunities for economic growth, training and development of skills vital for the future of the offshore wind industry. 

Installed in October 2013, the turbine first became operational in March 2014 and is currently consented for operation until 2019.

Each blade measures 83.5 metres and weighs 30 tonnes –  longer than the wingspan of an Airbus A380 and weighing approximately the same as 15 family cars.

Operating at full capacity, it could produce power for 4,800 homes. The turbine measures 196 metres from blade tip to sea level, with a rotor diameter of 171 metres –  taller than the ‘gherkin building’ in London.

The turbine offers UK industry and academia an unrivalled opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of technologies as well as the operations and maintenance aspects of offshore wind turbines, with the ultimate goal of reducing the cost of energy.

ORE-Catapult is working closely with key academic and industry stakeholders to align the research programme of the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine with industry priorities to drive cost reduction in offshore wind.

ORE Levenmouth offshore wind test turbineAfter attending the launch, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland’s research and development in renewables is unrivalled and the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine adds to Scotland’s extensive portfolio of test facilities.

“The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult will work with the offshore wind sector, Skills Development Scotland and the Energy Skills Partnership to ensure the knowledge is transferred to industry to help it develop our offshore wind resources, some of the best in the world.

“I am also pleased to see that the local community will benefit from the project through work with local schools and Fife College.”

Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive, ORE Catapult, added: “The Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine will play a major part in the development of future technologies to lower the cost of offshore wind.

“It offers opportunities for UK supply chain and technology development and, sitting so prominently at the heart of the Levenmouth communities, it is vital that the turbine also plays a role in locally developing and supporting the next generation of Scottish engineers, who will ensure that Fife enjoys a bright future thanks to renewable energy.”

Professor William Leithead is the Chair of the EPSRC Supergen Wind Hub, and Director of the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre for Wind and Marine Energy Systems. He added:

“The Levenmouth turbine is a real game changer for the UK academic community. Until now, we’ve lagged behind our European colleagues in not having open access to a full-scale turbine that can be used to prove and de-risk new research outputs and technologies. 

“Access to the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine will make it possible to position the Scottish, and wider UK academic research community, right at the heart of European wind research, funding opportunities and technology development.”

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