Shepherd Construction Awarded Building Contract for 15MW Offshore Wind Drive Train Testing Facility

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The new structure will be a 32-metre high steel framed building constructed with 1300 tonnes of steel.

The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) has signed a £14.8m contract with Shepherd Construction to deliver a 3,000m² building that will become the world’s largest facility for testing entire offshore wind turbine nacelles of up to 15MW capacity.

Tony Quinn, Director of Major Assets and Projects at Narec, said: “This is the third new building being built by Shepherd Construction for Narec in Blyth as part of a £100m investment in the site. The 15MW test facility will be commissioned in the summer of 2013 and will cement our position as a world leading centre for the research, development and demonstration of innovative offshore renewable energy technologies.”

The new structure will be a 32-metre high steel framed building constructed with 1300 tonnes of steel. To provide sufficient support for the nacelle drive train testing equipment, a 43-metre by 12-metre test bed foundation will be constructed and will be up to four metres deep with pile foundations.

Colin Sargeant, Shepherd Construction east division managing director commented: “We’re delighted to have signed the contract for the third of these unique structures and to be contributing further to the development at Narec that will ensure the UK is a world leader in renewable energy technology. Work will start on the third structure this December and will be scheduled to complete in March 2013.”

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investing £25m in the Narec facility, by providing funding to a consortium of Converteam and MTS Systems Corporation for the design, development and commissioning of the test rig, a world leading large-scale engineering project.

Dr David Clarke, ETI Chief Executive said: “The test rig will allow both larger wind turbines to be tested and for a wider scope of testing to take place than is available in current facilities elsewhere in the world.”

Additional Project Details

• The Architect on the project is Red Box Design Group, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, while the Structural and M&E services will be handled by Arup.

• Turner Townsend Turner have been appointed Project Manager on behalf of Narec.

About Shepherd Construction

1. Shepherd Construction is an industry leading construction company handling projects for the public and private sectors, including leisure, commercial, industrial, housing, health, education, retail and research laboratories.

2. It operates throughout the UK, with its Head Office in York. Shepherd also has offices located in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Darlington, Slough and St. Neots.

3. Since its foundation more than 100 years ago, the business has been a recognised leader for quality, innovation and training. It was the first national construction company to achieve Investors in People in 1992 and passed its fifth re-assessment with flying colours in 2004. Shepherd holds three prestigious National Training Awards, as well as the 2002 Contract Journal Award for Training. It was voted the ‘Best Place to Work in Construction’ in the 2005 Contract Journal Awards.

4. It is part of Shepherd Group, one of the largest family-owned, private companies in the UK. The Group has an annual turnover in excess of £500 million, and employs over 3000 employees.

About Narec

1. Narec is the UK’s national translational research centre for accelerating grid integration of renewable energy systems and catalysing the development and deployment of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy generation technologies.

2. A100m blade testing facility for the offshore wind industry will be commissioned in spring 2012. This £15 million facility will receive public investment of £11.5m from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

3. A 15MW drive train test facility will commissioned in summer 2013. The ETI is investing £25m in the design, development and commissioning of the offshore wind test rig and One North East will invest £10 million in the building to house the rig.

4. A 3MW drive train test facility suitable for tidal and wind applications is supported by government, One North East and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13. Operational spring 2012.

5. Narec was awarded a grant by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in February 2010 to put the infrastructure in place for a grid connected offshore demonstration platform, with the capacity to accommodate up to 100MW of offshore wind power. Application for site consent will be submitted to the MMO in early 2012.

Energy Technologies Institute

1 The Energy Technologies Institute is a public-private partnership between global industries and the UK Government. The ETI brings together projects and partnerships that create affordable, reliable, clean energy for heat, power, transport and associated infrastructure. For more information, please go to

2 The ETI’s six private sector members are BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell. The ETI’s public funds are received from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills through the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The ETI will accelerate the deployment of affordable, secure low-carbon energy systems from 2020 to 2050 by demonstrating technologies, developing knowledge, skills and supply-chains and informing the development of regulation, standards and policy.

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