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05 August 2010

UK to trial cutting-edge offshore wind turbine designs

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Four renewable energy developers awarded rights to test next generation technology in UK waters

Efforts to reduce the high cost of offshore wind farm developments received a major boost today when the Crown Estate, the agency responsible for the British sea bed, announced that it has approved four new demonstration projects designed to test the latest in offshore wind turbine technologies.

Two firms have been awarded leases in England, while a further two projects have been awarded exclusivity agreements in Scotland, which now need to be approved by the Scottish government.

Danish firm Dong Energy was awarded an extension lease to build two next generation wind turbines at its recently inaugurated 172MW Gunfleet Sands offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary.

Meanwhile, the Blyth-based National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) won a lease to build a 100MW demonstration site containing up to 20 "pods", which developers will rent out to test large scale turbine prototypes.

Earlier this year, Narec was awarded an £18.5m grant from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to fund the initial site infrastructure. Narec said it is already in discussions with a number of "high-profile" firms which are seeking to rent out a pod at the North Sea site.

"The independent offshore facility will be unique in global R&D terms and is the final piece in the Narec jigsaw; establishing the UK's offshore wind technology testing and demonstration hub in North East England," said Narec chief executive Andrew Mill.


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