GE Renewable Energy and ORE Catapult sign five-year R&D agreement to advance offshore wind technologies in the UK

Published 24 April 2018


  • Haliade-X 12 MW next generation offshore wind turbine will be tested at Catapult’s UK facilities
  • Advanced research programme will enhance existing technology performance and accelerate delivery of next generation of offshore wind turbines
  • Collaboration will enable UK supply chain growth and support to innovative SMEs

Blyth, Tuesday 24th April 2018 – GE Renewable Energy and the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have signed a five-year research and development agreement to test and develop next generation offshore wind technologies.

GE’s recently announced Haliade-X 12 MW offshore wind turbine and existing Haliade 150-6MW will undergo advanced test and demonstration programs that accurately replicate real-world operational conditions to enhance performance and reliability. Testing will take place at ORE Catapult’s 15MW power train test facility in Blyth, Northumberland.

Research and development activities will include cooling technologies, converters, loading conditions across mechanical and electrical components, grid testing and design validation. This collaboration will drive technology improvements that will also help to develop the UK supply chain and increase access to demonstration opportunities for innovative small businesses.

Welcoming news of the agreement, UK Government Energy & Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said, “This collaboration is great news and highlights our world-class research and testing facilities. Through our Industrial Strategy, we are making the UK a global leader in renewables, including offshore wind, with more support available than any other country in the world. With 22% of all investment in European wind projects coming to the UK, the offshore wind industry is exceptionally well placed to boost supplies of home grown clean energy whilst growing new jobs and opportunities.”

John Lavelle, president & CEO of GE’s Offshore Wind business, said “This is an important agreement because it will enable us to prove Haliade-X in a faster way by putting it under controlled and extreme conditions. Traditional testing methods rely on local wind conditions and therefore have limited repeatability for testing. By using ORE Catapult’s facilities and expertise, we will be in a better position to adapt our technology in a shortened time, reduce unplanned maintenance, increase availability and power output, while introducing new features to meet customers’ demands.”

ORE Catapult Chief Executive, Andrew Jamieson said “This five-year collaborative programme with GE Renewable Energy is a testament to the Catapult’s world-class engineering, research and development capabilities across all aspects of wind turbine development and performance.

“By working closely together in areas such as power trains, blades and electrical infrastructure, we look forward to helping GE to both enhance their existing portfolio and bring new products and services to the offshore wind market, while simultaneously generating significant economic growth opportunities in the UK.”

In addition to the R&D activities, the agreement also includes a £6 million (US$ 8.5 million) combined investment with Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to install the world’s largest and most powerful grid emulation system at the Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth. Supplied by GE Power, Grid Emulation, in conjunction with the Catapult’s power train test facilities, will enable the partners, UK companies and researchers to better assess the interaction between the next generation of large-scale wind turbines and the electrical distribution network in the most challenging environments.

Editors’ Notes

The five year R&D Agreement will seek to:

    • Improve turbine platform availability & reliability through highly accelerated life testing
    • Accelerate prototype certification through rigorous functional testing
    • Validate designs, upgrades and new technologies

ORE Catapult engineers will deliver independent performance, functionality, endurance and accelerated life testing of components, sub-assemblies, sub-systems and full systems (including the generator and converter) recreating extreme conditions in a controlled onshore environment up to 15MW rating.

The test stand will improve understanding of turbine performance, identifying manufacturing and design issues in a relatively short time period compared to field tests. Ultimately, it will reduce time to market, improve reliability and mitigate the associated costs and risks of deployment.

ORE Catapult’s testing capability replicates the effects of the wind and includes dynamic torque, axial and radial force and bending moment application to emulate operational conditions. Unbalanced rotor, brake emulations, condition monitoring and control system validation tests can also be conducted.

The Grid Emulation System (GES) will be largest and most advanced testing platform of its type in the world, capable of demonstrating Grid Code Compliance. It will also allow different wind turbine configurations—including double-fed induction generators and synchronous generators without a fully rated converter—to be tested.


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