Wind Energy – Test Facility
The world’s first rapid testing facility for tidal turbine blades, which researchers say can speed up development of marine energy technologies while helping to reduce costs, has opened for business.
FastBlade’s pioneering technology will stress test blades made from composite materials – which must withstand harsh ocean conditions for 20 years – more quickly, and using significantly less energy than any other facility of its kind, the team says.
Based in Rosyth, Fife, the £4.6 million facility – which was officially opened by UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord – aims to maintain Scotland’s position at the forefront of tidal energy development.
The facility’s 75-tonne reaction frame is capable of exerting powerful forces on turbine blades more than 50 feet long. Tests on blades are carried out using a system of powerful hydraulic cylinders, which, in less than three months, can simulate the stresses placed on the structures during two decades at sea.
It replicates the complex forces to which tidal turbines are exposed at sea using unique digital and hydraulic technology systems developed by engineers at the University of Edinburgh.
FastBlade will be the world’s first dedicated fatigue test facility for tidal turbine blades, and will help this emerging industry provide clean, reliable renewable energy at a reasonable cost to consumers. The facility will also help maintain the globally leading position of Scottish tidal turbine developers in the race to find sources of clean and secure power, as well as confirming the societal impact of the University of Edinburgh’s research and development efforts in marine renewable energy.
By providing developers with better data on how tidal turbine blades deteriorate over time, the research team hopes to help optimise the design of more durable, efficient structures. FastBlade will also offer client businesses and engineering students and apprentices the chance to develop their digital and data skills in its state-of-the-art research centre.