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£86m investment in offshore wind research facilities to accelerate UK development of next generation of super turbines

Development of the world’s most advanced wind turbine blade and drive train testing assets at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland, set to deliver major boost to UK growth from offshore wind.

Ambitious plans to keep the UK at the forefront of technology development in offshore wind have been given the green light today, with the announcement that UKRI will provide £85.6m of capital funding for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to expand and upgrade its testing facilities and enable the evolution of the next generation of wind turbines in the UK.

The late-stage research and development facilities, designed for the testing of blades up to 150m and drive trains up to 23MW, combined with ORE Catapult’s extensive expertise in test and demonstration, will ensure that turbine manufacturers can accelerate their technology development in the UK with reduced risk and enhanced reliability for a new wave of larger, more efficient machines. Both blade and drive train capabilities will have the capacity for further expansion, to 180m and 28MW respectively, to meet future industry demand.

The new facilities will enable faster product development of turbines through test, validation and certification and are expected to prevent 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by accelerating deployment by a minimum of eight-months – meaning more of the energy keeping our lights on and heating our homes is from an eco-friendly source. They will also support the growth of UK supply chains, and provide critical research infrastructure to support inward investment into the UK wind industry. They will also create 30 new jobs in Blyth and support 5 PhDs a year.


Science, Innovation and Research Minister, Andrew Griffith, said: “Putting pioneering innovation at the heart of the UK’s transition to net zero is the key to protecting our environment in a way which continues to lift living standards.

“Our £86m funding will create highly skilled and highly paid new jobs that grow the north-east and wider UK economies while pulling investment in by marking our country as a leader on technologies of the future and unashamedly open for business.

“At the same time, it strengthens the UK’s energy security in an uncertain world and helps us pivot towards the cleaner energy that can preserve our planet for generations to come.”

Dr Adam Staines, UKRI Infrastructure Portfolio Director, said: “UKRI continues to make the vital infrastructure investments that will underpin innovation and research throughout the UK for the coming decades. The project in Blyth demonstrates that investment in the right infrastructure can reduce CO2, support greater energy independence and drive economic benefits that build world-class places to live and work, as well. Working across UKRI with Innovate UK’s Catapult Network and the wider supply chain will help achieve these crucial objectives.”

Andrew Jamieson, ORE Catapult Chief Executive, said: “This investment in truly world-leading capability will keep the UK at the forefront of offshore wind technology development. It will enable ORE Catapult to continue to deliver the most advanced research and development infrastructure and expertise to the offshore wind industry, capturing the jobs and economic growth from the transition to a Net Zero economy”.

Richard Sandford, Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, said: “I’m delighted that ORE Catapult has deservedly secured this significant level of investment from UKRI’s Infrastructure Fund which will help to maintain Britain’s leading position in offshore wind.  It will enable ORE Catapult to continue to develop state-of-the-art turbine technology, building on its excellent track record of leadership in innovation. The blades and drive trains which will be tested by world-class experts in Blyth are expected to make UK offshore wind projects even more cost-competitive, and see supply chain companies exporting this technology overseas, adding value to the UK’s economy and helping to accelerate the pace of global decarbonisation”.

Dan McGrail, RenewableUK CEO, said: “Investing in ground-breaking research to develop the next generation of turbines is vital if this country is to retain its position as a global trailblazer in innovative offshore wind technology in the face of strong international competition. Last month we launched an Industrial Growth Plan for offshore wind which shows how proactively focussing on high-value components such as blades will boost the UK’s economy by £25 billion and support an extra 10,000 jobs over the next ten years. We have an excellent opportunity to build up new offshore wind supply chains, and the cutting-edge work being done by our colleagues at ORE Catapult will help us to achieve this”.

Designs are well advanced with a view to commencing construction in the near future at the Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth of the new blade testing facility, alongside the existing 100m blade test hall, and the major upgrade to its 15MW drive train test facility, with both expected to be fully commissioned by 2028.

For more information contact: 

ORE Catapult: Pamela Bailey, PR Manager, pamela.bailey@ore.catapult.org.uk, 07771 206307

UKRI: PJ Taylor, senior media and communications manager, pj.taylor@iuk.ukri.org, 07950 225001

Contact Information

About the upgrades

This investment will deliver two critical developments at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth:

  • The construction of a new 150m blade test facility, with potential for future expansion to 180m, alongside the existing 100m blade test facility that will be repurposed.
  • An upgrade to the drive train test facility, currently operating at 15MW, to 23MW with a future pathway to 28MW should the industry require it over time.

This transformative investment in testing assets will ensure that the business retains the capability of supporting the offshore wind industry’s largest testing and validation requirements, as well as keeping the UK at the forefront of technology development in offshore wind.

It will enable continued inward investment; driving growth in UK jobs, manufacturing and supply chain development whilst also facilitating the delivery of the essential resources required by the UK to deliver on its offshore wind commitments.

Once completed, the new assets will represent the most complete set of resources worldwide for the de-risking of new offshore wind technology through accelerated learning in a controlled environment. They will increase both reliability and investor confidence in next generation wind turbines and will ultimately contribute to net zero becoming a reality.

About the UKRI Infrastructure Fund programme

The ORE Catapult Innovation Infrastructure project is funded through the UKRI Infrastructure Fund.

The UKRI Infrastructure Fund supports the facilities, equipment and resources that are essential for researchers and innovators to do ground-breaking work.

This strategic fund helps to create a long-term pipeline of research and innovation infrastructure investment priorities for the next 10 to 20 years. It supports a range of projects from new infrastructures to major upgrades, delivering a step change in infrastructure capability and capacity.

The Infrastructure Fund spans the complete disciplinary spectrum and funds infrastructures located across all of the UK’s regions and nations, and those which form part of major international collaborations.

The ORE Catapult Innovation Infrastructure project helps address UKRI’s Building a Green Future strategic theme, one of five UKRI-wide initiatives aiming to harness the full power of the UK’s research and innovation system to tackle large-scale, complex challenges.

Working with others, we aim to accelerate the green economy by supporting research and innovation that delivers on national priorities and unlocks solutions essential to achieving net zero in the UK by 2050.

The Innovate UK Catapult Network provides a unique combination of cutting-edge R&D facilities and world class technical expertise to support UK business growth and is a critical element of Innovate UK’s portfolio of Products and Services – its overall offer to drive business innovation in the UK. There are nine Catapults with each one having a strong sector or technological focus that plays a key role in accelerating innovation, growing business and stimulating private sector R&D investment in the UK.

Find out more

If you have any questions or feedback about this guidance, please email sophie.mason@ukri.org

About the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult

ORE Catapult is the UK’s leading innovation centre for offshore renewable energy, established in 2013 by the UK Government as part of a network of Catapults set up by Innovate UK in high growth industries.

Independent and trusted, with a unique combination of world leading test and demonstration facilities, engineering and research expertise, ORE Catapult convenes the sector, delivering applied research, accelerating technology development, reducing risk and cost, and enhancing UK-wide economic growth.

ORE Catapult operates in Glasgow, Blyth, Levenmouth, Aberdeen, the Humber, the East of England, the South West, and Wales.