EDF Energy Renewables (EDF ER) has acquired the rights to develop the Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Project near the port of Blyth in Northumberland, securing both the seabed rights from the Crown Estate and associated land rights and meteorological data from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. The project could provide the company with an opportunity to grow its expertise and experience in designing and choosing foundations, as well as installing and operating large turbines in offshore conditions. This experience could be transferred to other projects in the UK and in France.
The site, the largest consented offshore wind testing facility in the UK, can accommodate up to 15 turbines and provides a testing area to install and trial new technology in real conditions before starting commercial operation.
EDF Energy R&D and ORE Catapult have also entered into a collaboration agreement with the aim of developing R&D projects to tackle some of the key technology challenges facing the sector. This could help reduce the risks associated with emerging technologies.
The site at Blyth was offered up to the market by the Crown Estate earlier this year in order to secure a developer capable of delivering an operational test and demonstration project on site by 2016/17. At the same time, the ORE Catapult launched a competitive process for associated project elements like the grid connection, onshore land rights and wind data.
Huub Den Rooijen, The Crown Estate’s Head of Offshore Wind said: “Blyth offers an unparalleled opportunity to test new technologies capable of driving down the cost of offshore wind development and unlocking new areas of resource off our coast. Having an experienced developer like EDF on board is an important step towards unlocking the potential of this site and enabling new innovations that build on the UK’s reputation as a world leader in this sector.”
EDF Energy Renewables CEO Christian Egal said: “We’re delighted to be getting access to a UK site which, subject to a final decision by our Investment Committee, could give us the opportunity to further enhance our expertise in building offshore wind farms and to test new technologies […] We’re really pleased to be able to add another potential project to our portfolio in a region which is becoming a real power house for the UK energy industry.”