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ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine

An open access facility providing a unique test-bed for UK innovators

Published 8 October 2019   [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNTgQxqdZ_E[/embed] Situated just metres off the coast of Fife, the 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine (LDT) was acquired by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in 2015 and is the world’s largest and most advanced open access offshore wind turbine dedicated to research and demonstration. Since then, 119 SMEs have accessed the facility for technology development, testing or demonstration, providing an invaluable and unique facility for businesses to innovate, to prove new technologies and find vital routes to market. Forty-five collaborative research and development projects have been completed or are under contract at the site too. The Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine is a hub for some exciting new areas for technology development in the wind industry. The turbine is playing an important role in the development of the UK’s robotics and automation industry. In 2018, a group of autonomous inspection providers that were invited by the Catapult to perform representative commercial tests on the turbine so that an industry baseline for quality inspection could be identified. Most recently, Edinburgh’s Marynsol tested its SeaSmart automated marine survey payload at Levenmouth, successfully demonstrating that it can perform these crucial tasks in significantly less time than traditional methods. Levenmouth is also spearheading the digitalisation of the wind industry – from sensors fitted inside its nuts and bolts to novel lightning strike detection systems and lidar installations. Altogether, 122 new packages of instrumentation have been installed in the turbine’s foundations, tower, blades and drivetrain to unlock operational insight. Much of ORE Catapult’s work on future smart energy systems and battery storage is based at the Levenmouth site too, including Project Methilltoune which has modelled a hydrogen-integration system based upon the turbine and the CLUE project which is piloting a local community energy around the turbine.  

Creating opportunity for young people

Since 2016, the Catapult has funded a STEM ambassador at Levenmouth Academy, which has evolved into a full-time STEM Principle Teacher position, delivering extensive programmes throughout the school in areas such as robotics, drones and programming. The Academy was also a beneficiary of ORE Catapult’s STEM Club Start-Up programme, which used funding from the Royal College of Engineering to spark local children’s interest in offshore renewable energy as a future career. Other ways in which the Catapult has created opportunity for young people in the area are:

  • Providing hands-on experience and training for Fife College turbine technicians
  • Collaborative development of a next-generation Immersive Hybrid Reality offshore wind turbine for education and training for use in local schools and training centres
  • Contributing to the development of a renewable energy curriculum across the Scottish College Network.