World Class R&D

Accelerating innovation, boosting capabilities

Energy Central has a unique and world-renowned R&D offering, which businesses can harness to drive and accelerate product and service innovation.

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

Energy Central is home to the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth, which operates the largest concentration of multi-purpose offshore renewable energy test and research facilities in the world.

It is the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy and is playing a key role in delivering the UK’s net zero targets by accelerating the creation and growth of UK companies in the offshore renewable energy sector.

The ORE Catapult uses its unique facilities and research and engineering capabilities to bring together industry and academia and drive innovation.

It has a team of more than 200 people who have extensive technical and research capabilities, industry experience and track record, and its expert personnel are leading innovation in reducing offshore renewable energy costs.

The ORE Catapult offers:

  • Wind turbine blade testing facilities which undertake structural testing of blades up to 100m in length. These facilities also include a Blade Rain Erosion Test Rig & Laboratory.
  • 1MW, 3 MW and 15 MW power train testing facilities which are capable of performing independent performance and reliability appraisals of full systems and components.
  • Electrical infrastructure facilities, including UKAS-Accredited HV And Materials Laboratory,  HV insulation breakdown testing up to 600kV AC, 1MV DC and a dynamic cable test rig.
  • An open access offshore anemometry platform–the National Offshore Anemometry Hub (NOAH) – which is located in representative Round 3 conditions, 3 NM off Blyth, Northumberland.
  • Subsea and marine testing facilities, including three subsea docks for both wet and dry conditions, including a replica seabed, for controlled subsea testing. This controlled salt water environment is used in trials and demonstrations of new and innovative technologies.
  • The Disruptive Innovative Test Centre, which is used to develop and accelerate high potential, innovative technology, from early stage development to market ready products or services. A versatile workspace, it contains a 1MW powertrain rig and 50m blade test hubs. It also has shop floor space and facilities, crane lifting, large payload access and office space.

Regional Universities

The North East’s five universities – Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, The University of Sunderland and Teesside University – offer world class R&D expertise.

Newcastle University’s Blyth Marine Station based at Energy Central enables the School of Marine Science and Technology to support cutting edge field research through the operation of its research vessel, The Princess Royal.

Energy Central is also home to Newcastle University’s Emerson Cavitation Tunnel, the only one of its kind in the UK, which provides an efficient service to the marine sector, including ship owners, shipyards and propeller manufacturers.

The University is a key partner in the delivery of Tyne Subsea, which provides open access to the National Centre for Hyperbaric Services for the subsea and offshore energy sectors.

Newcastle University is also leading a national network of Driving the Electric Revolution Centres (DER Centres) to enable faster collaborative research and development of electric machines - including cars, planes and ships.

The four DER Centres are backed by £30 million Government funding and will provide open access facilities with state-of-the-art equipment, bringing together the UK’s technology and manufacturing expertise in electrification research and development.

The network of centres has been set up to propel UK manufacturing to the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change and ensure the UK can reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In addition, Sunderland University has developed the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM), an advanced manufacturing innovation centre that will provide the catalyst for manufacturing productivity improvement in North East England - through world class open innovation, adoption and knowledge transfer.

EV North

EV North, an initiative run by the North East Automotive Alliance, aims to strengthen the North East's manufacturing and research activity in electrified powertrain components and systems, to increase investment, activity and collaboration.

It is supporting the North East’s transition to become a true automotive powerhouse and a location of choice for automotive investment in Europe.

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