EDF Energy Renewables (EDF ER) has announced that it has acquired the rights to develop the Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Project near the port of Blyth in Northumberland, securing both the seabed rights from The Crown Estate, and associated land rights and meteorological data from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
The project could provide the company with an opportunity to grow its expertise and experience in designing and choosing foundations, as well as installing and operating large turbines in offshore conditions. This experience could be transferred to other projects here in the UK and in France.
The site, the largest consented offshore wind testing facility in the UK, was taken through the planning process by the National Renewable Energy Centre (now the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult). The site can accommodate up to 15 turbines and provides a testing area to install and trial new technology in realistic conditions before commercial operation.
EDF Energy R&D and ORE Catapult have also entered into a collaboration agreement with the aim of developing R&D projects to tackle some of the key technology challenges facing the sector. This could help reduce the risks associated with emerging technologies.
The site at Blyth was offered up to the market by the Crown Estate, the organisation which manages the UK seabed, earlier this year in order to secure a developer capable of delivering an operational test and demonstration project on site by 2016/17. At the same time, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult launched a competitive process for associated project elements like the grid connection, onshore land rights and wind data.
EDF ER is expected to make a final investment decision on building the site next year.
EDF Energy Renewables CEO Christian Egal said:
“We’re delighted to be getting access to a UK site which, subject to a final investment decision by our Investment Committee, could give us the opportunity to further enhance our expertise in building offshore wind farms and to test new technologies.
“Offshore projects present their own unique challenges for developers and having the opportunity to install, and operate much larger machines than we’ve done previously could give us vital experience to take to other projects around the UK and other EDF sites abroad.
“As a company, we already have a large presence in the North East, including EDF’s first offshore wind farm just down the coast at Teesside. So we’re really pleased to be able to add another potential project to our portfolio in a region which is becoming a real power house for the UK energy industry.”
Huub Den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind at The Crown Estate, said:
“Blyth offers an unparalleled opportunity to test new technologies capable of driving down the cost of offshore wind development and unlocking new areas of resource off our coast.
“Having an experienced developer like EDF on board is an important step towards unlocking the potential of this site, and enabling new innovations that build on the UK’s reputation as a world leader in this sector.
“Today’s announcement is a tribute to the hard work and cooperation of all parties involved with the site.”
Andrew Jamieson, CEO of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult said:
“ORE Catapult and EDF will collaborate closely on research and development to accelerate the development of innovative technologies for the offshore wind industry, driving down the cost of energy from offshore wind and benefitting the whole offshore renewables industry.”