The offshore renewable energy (ORE) Catapult, based in Blyth, is the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy and aims to accelerate the creation and growth of UK companies in the offshore renewable energy sector.
The development of the proposed Technology Development Centre (TDC) will provide key regional research infrastructure facilities for the Northumberland region.
The ultimate aim of the TDC project is to deliver local employment and economic growth by building an industry relevant technology centre.
It also hopes to attract companies, workers and learners to Blyth, enhancing the Energy Central Campus offering to deliver an inclusive local agenda for future energy skills, supply chain, disruptive innovation and research & development.
It will be developed in collaboration with the renewable and clean energy industry and surrounding supply chain as well as education.
BDaily is reporting that the new £6m two-storey facility, to be named the Technology Development Centre (TDC), will provide testing, validation and demonstration capabilities for small and medium sized companies working on products and services for the offshore wind industry.
Development of the facility is expected to generate as many as 30 new jobs, and it is anticipated that 100 new learners will be supported within the first five years of operation, including local apprentices and students from Northumbria University, who will have direct access to the building.
Tony Quinn, Director of Technology Development at ORE Catapult, said: “This is a hugely exciting project that adds to the fantastic testing facilities we have in Blyth, providing an incubator for new technologies capable of disrupting the offshore wind market, as well as creating jobs and learning opportunities through apprenticeships, and partnerships with higher education.
“We expect the facility will provide demonstrable benefits to the regional and national supply chain, generating significant growth in companies by helping to advance novel technologies, and will contribute to the conveyor belt of talent required to drive the growth of the offshore wind sector.”
The TDC will house a 1MW test rig, a mini electrical grid system where clients can test and certify the electrical compliance of their devices for any grid in the world, and a wind tunnel supplied by Northumbria University to study aerodynamics in offshore wind.
It will support companies accelerating the advancement of power conversion systems, rotating components, and hardware in the loop testing for energy storage systems such as hydrogen and battery storage.
The 1,900 sq m former storage facility and surrounding land was bought from the Port of Blyth with investment from the North of Tyne Combined Authority (£2m), the Blyth Town Deal (£2m), Innovate UK (£1.3m) and ORE Catapult (£600k).
Independent North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll, added: “The new Technology Development Centre (TDC) will provide space for entrepreneurs, engineers, students and apprentices to test and refine their products.
“As an engineer, I know how important it is to fail, to fail better each time and ultimately develop the vital green technologies that will help us reach net zero.”