Narec’s 15MW capacity wind turbine nacelle test rig

Building Works Completed on Narec’s Groundbreaking Offshore Wind Turbine Development Facility

Published 2 May 2013

Independent centre to be the first to test next generation multi-megawatt turbines

Construction of the structure that will house Narec’s 15 megawatt (MW) capacity wind turbine nacelle test rig has been formally completed six weeks ahead of schedule.  The handover of the new building by Shepherd Construction concludes design and building works for three new facilities on the site.

The new building – a 35 metre high, 3000 square meter hall – has been designed and built to accommodate a test rig which will conduct performance, endurance and compressed life testing of complete nacelles up to 15MW rating.  The rig will apply both torque and shaft loads.

Andrew Mill, Chief Executive at Narec, said: “We will be the first independent facility to undertake accelerated life testing of a next generation offshore wind turbine.  The early completion of building works is a significant achievement and we expect to have completed our first commercial test programme by the middle of next year.  The entire facility is bespoke; designed and built to ensure that larger turbines can be brought into operation sooner.  It will have a significant impact on the improved design and operation of offshore wind turbines in the UK over the next 20 years.”

The installation of the 15MW capacity test rig by GE Energy – Power Conversion is well underway onsite and involves a Permanent Magnet Motor (PMM) and the largest Force Application System (FAS) of its type in the world, weighing over 400 tonnes.  Testing onshore improves the understanding of turbine performance and will verify new designs under simulated lifetime operating conditions and extreme events, such as storm conditions and electrical failures.

Shepherd Engineering Services will remain onsite in a coordination capacity during rig assembly.  Colin Sargeant, Regional Managing Director at Shepherd Construction, commented: “We are delighted to be handing over this new state-of-the-art facility to Narec.  Having spent more than two years working on the project, the whole team feel privileged to have been involved in developing a facility that will help the UK to further advance the offshore renewable energy industry.”

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investing £25 million in the Narec facility, by providing funding to GE Energy – Power Conversion and MTS Systems Corporation for the design, development and commissioning of the test rig.  Andrew Scott, ETI Programme Manager for Offshore Wind, said: “We are delighted with the new building, taking us all a step closer to the drive train test rig being fully installed at Narec.  We look forward to the state-of-the art, open access test rig taking shape, and with it ultimately helping in the further expansion of the UK’s offshore wind industry.”

In April of this year, the project team for the construction of three new facilities at Narec were awarded the Robert Stephenson Award by The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East.  This was presented to Narec, Red Box Design, Shepherd Construction, Arup, Turner & Townsend and Heyrod Construction.  Highlighting the ‘great technical ingenuity in both the design and construction processes’ ICE judges commented: “the requirements of the scheme set unique challenges for the designers to understand and calculate the huge loads applied during the testing process and the construction demanded tolerances more normally associated with a laboratory than a construction site.”

Jonathan Lunn, Associate Director at Turner & Townsend, said: “Turner & Townsend is extremely proud to have played a part in the success of the project to date and we are now embracing the challenge of managing the complex installation of the test rig ready for commissioning later this summer.”

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