The UK's Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult this week announced a five year GBP-2.3-million (USD 2.9m/EUR 2.6m) research partnership with the University of Bristol to advance wind turbine blades.
Creating the Wind Blade Research Hub (WBRH), the partners will look to support the development of next-generation blades as offshore wind turbines are expected to leap from 8 MW now to 13 MW-15 MW by 2025.
Stephen Wyatt, ORE Catapult's research and disruptive innovation director, said that making ever larger turbines will require longer blades that will need to be constructed using new designs, materials and new construction and manufacturing processes. They will also need to be tested and validated. "The WBRH provides a mechanism for pulling all of these different strands together," Wyatt added.
The innovation and research centre last year unveiled a search for a UK university to join the blade hub. Wyatt said the University of Bristol is the ideal partner, given its composites expertise and over 150 researchers dedicated to areas such as aerodynamics and blade design, and materials and manufacturing.
The initial phase of the programme will explore blade materials and manufacturing technology, blade integrity, blade design and performance.
"We already have two significant blade manufacturing facilities in the UK – Siemens in Hull and MHI Vestas on the Isle of Wight – and we believe that the Hub can play an integral role in linking those facilities and their manufacturers back into the technical expertise, research activity and testing assets of the Hub’s partners," Wyatt further said.
(GBP 1 = USD 1.269/EUR 1.136)
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