Construction starts on £6m transformation of Blyth site for offshore renewable energy projects

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The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has started construction at its Blyth site.

A former paper storage shed will be transformed into a new £6 million two-storey facility, named the Technology Development Centre (TDC).

It will become a home for small scale innovation in the offshore renewables sector, providing testing, validation and demonstration capabilities for small and medium sized companies working on offshore wind industry products and services.

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As many as 30 jobs will be made and 100 new learners, including apprentices and Northumbria University students, will be given support and access to the building within the first five years of operation.

Computer generated image of ORE Catapult's new Technology Development Centre in Blyth.Computer generated image of ORE Catapult's new Technology Development Centre in Blyth.
Computer generated image of ORE Catapult's new Technology Development Centre in Blyth.

Tony Quinn, director of technology development at ORE Catapult, said: “This is a hugely exciting project that adds to the fantastic testing facilities we have in Blyth.

“We expect the facility will provide demonstrable benefits to the regional and national supply chain, generating significant growth in companies by helping to advance novel technologies, and will contribute to the conveyor belt of talent required to drive the growth of the offshore wind sector.”

It will house a 1MW test rig, a mini electrical grid system for clients to use and a wind tunnel, supplied by Northumbria University to study aerodynamics in offshore wind.

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Independent North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll, said: “As an engineer, I know how important it is to fail - to fail better each time and ultimately develop the vital green technologies that will help us reach net zero.

“We’ve put £2 million into the TDC as part of my commitment to create good jobs and boost the regional economy. We’ve already invested £25 million in offshore wind power. This is the Green New Deal in action in the North East.”

The 1900sqm former storage facility and surrounding land was bought from the Port of Blyth with investment from the North of Tyne Combined Authority (£2m), the Blyth Town Deal (£2m), Innovate UK (£1.3m) and ORE Catapult (£600k).

The building will be treated and painted, given new acoustic lined cladding and solar roof tiles, in partnership with Solar Capture Technologies. A new entrance will be installed, an operational area created, and office and workshop facilities will be constructed.

It is anticipated that the TDC will open in Winter 2024.

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