10-year plan to keep Methil turbine moving

Plan to put Fife turbine at centre of a further decade of research.
Plan to put Fife turbine at centre of a further decade of research.

Operators of the world’s largest open access research turbine off the coast Methil are bidding to extend its use for a further decade because of its success.

Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, is considering plans for a 10-year extension to its contract in order to maximise the potential for further groundbreaking research.

ORE Catapult took over the use of the 7MW turbine in December 2015 from previous operators Samsung Heavy Industries.

“We are considering applying for an extension to our contract, which was originally awarded for five years and we’d like to extend it for another 10,” said Tony Quinn, facilities director.

“Primarily we think we are creating value both nationally and locally.

“In the interim period we’ve been getting familiar with operating it. We’ve also launched some significant research projects which have international participation.

“It’s the world’s largest open access research turbine so when we acquired it, it was in the interests of industry and academia.

And Mr Quinn pointed to some of the innovative research that the company wish to be more involved in.

“There’s some fantastic stuff being done in the area of blade technology - seeing how you could improve the aerodynamic performance and reduce erosion on blade.

“So there’s lot going on internationally, but we also engage fully with the local community.

“We’re very much a technology-based organisation and we’re very passionate about exposing the students of today to the skills of tomorrow.

“Those will be needed in an industry which I think is undergoing a low carbon revolution, which is happening much quicker than anyone envisaged.”

With the company already having forged strong links with Fife colleges, extending the possibility of further research opportunities, Mr Quinn says an extension will also allow students to access cutting edge technology thanks to Scottish Government funding.

“We pay the salary of a STEM coordinator at the local academy because we are very passionate about science, technology and maths subjects,” he explained.

“We also have opportunities for 16 students from Fife College to experience first hand what it’s like to work at the turbine. This really gives long-term benefits in the sense of skills and employment.”

With a public consultation event having now taken place and further engagement planned, the company want to build a relationship of co-operation with the community.

“We’re not mandated to carry out this public consultation but we’re doing it as a means of good practice and of engaging with the local community, understanding what it would mean to them if we were indeed to extend the presence of the turbine for another 10 years.”

A decision on the operation extension is expected to come before planning officers before the end of the year.