The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has today (Tuesday) announced that it has completed the acquisition of the Levenmouth 7MW demonstration offshore wind turbine in Methil from Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI).
The turbine will now become the world’s most advanced, open access, offshore wind turbine dedicated to research, and offers opportunities for considerable training and development of skills vital for the future of the offshore wind industry.
ORE Catapult is working with Fife Council and local educational bodies on the development of world-leading skills and training programmes in renewable technologies that will support the development of Levenmouth as a global centre of excellence in offshore wind.
Leading Scottish renewable energy consultancy SgurrEnergy has been appointed as operations and maintenance contractors for the turbine, providing operations support, knowledge and expertise for the day to day running of the turbine.
The Catapult will now undertake a planned period of operation and familiarisation of the turbine alongside SHI, whilst continuing to develop research and development activities covering multiple areas of offshore wind operations.
The turbine offers UK industry and academia an unrivalled opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of technologies as well as the operations and maintenance aspects of offshore wind turbines, and thus drive down the cost of delivering clean energy from offshore wind.
Andrew Jamieson, chief executive of ORE Catapult, said: “Having a dedicated offshore wind turbine, accessible from shore, will prove a massive advantage for Scotland and indeed the UK’s offshore wind industry – a real world first.
“It enables us to extend and enhance both existing and future research programmes, provide an unrivalled testing environment for new technologies and facilitate the development of skills and experience critical to the future development of the industry, and its continuing efforts to reduce costs.
“I am very keen to see our ambitions in Levenmouth act as a magnet for innovation and skills development, attracting further investment to the area and helping to put Fife at the heart of Scotland’s renewable energy industry.”
Chan-Hee Son, managing director of SHI UK, said “SHI is pleased the future of the Levenmouth offshore prototype turbine has been secured. We believe it has the potential to play an important role in the future of the European offshore wind sector. We will continue to work closely with ORE Catapult to ensure a smooth transfer.”
Councillor Lesley Laird, depute leader of Fife Council and executive spokesman for economy and planning, added: “We welcome ORE Catapult to Fife and hope this leads to a successful future for offshore wind turbine training, research and development at the Energy Park.
“We continue to do everything we can to encourage and support investment into Fife.
“Offshore renewable energy is an important, growing industry with Fife at the forefront of Scotland’s renewables industry. Fife enjoys a reputation as a centre of excellence for research and engineering supporting the offshore wind sector. This is a great step forward in upholding and further cementing that reputation.”
Robbie Gibson, group director of SgurrEnergy, said: “Securing the full O&M contract for the Levenmouth turbine is testament to our strong expertise in wind energy. Our team will operate and maintain the wind turbine to ensure the correct balance between performance, availability and innovative R&D project allowance, using 24/7 remote monitoring combined with onsite management and support. We look forward to working with and supporting ORE Catapult on this exciting project.”
Ruth McKernan, chief executive of Innovate UK, added: “This acquisition enhances ORE Catapult’s ability to link industry and academia. The Catapults were established to transform the UK’s capability for innovation, and help drive future economic growth. This turbine will add to ORE Catapult’s efforts to commercialise innovation and reduce the cost of offshore renewables.”
Cllr Tom Adams, chairman of the Levenmouth Area Committee, said: “I’m pleased to see ORE Catapult taking over the offshore wind turbine for training, research and development purposes.
“ORE Catapult is the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre. We are keen to work closely with them to ensure that Levenmouth, and Fife, can benefit from any opportunities for employment and further investment that their research at the Energy Park might bring.
“Obviously, we will look to discuss future opportunities with ORE Catapult and I’m particularly pleased that there are positive discussions already under way on training and skills opportunities for the local community.”
The Catapult now operates the largest concentration of open access renewable energy test and demonstration facilities anywhere in the world, with the Levenmouth turbine complementing its existing facilities at its National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland.