The UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has announced plans to design the world’s largest open access offshore wind turbine drive train test rig.

The rig will be built in the UK and will support the development of the next generation of very high power, large wind turbines that will be deployed in UK waters. Two companies are competing to deliver designs for the rig, says the ETI.

The test rig will help to reduce the technical and commercial risks of mass production by allowing the whole turbine nacelle to be tested onshore and indoors before being taken offshore. It will also increase the speed of deployment of new turbines and arrays.

The UK government recently announced the nine developers that will build around 33 GW of offshore wind capacity around the UK. Although the UK has Europe’s biggest wind resource, it has no dedicated full turbine test facility.

ETI chief executive Dr David Clarke said: “We are designing this to be a world-class facility for the offshore wind industry and to support the UK government’s target of establishing 33 GW of offshore wind generating capacity by 2020.

“Developing this test-rig requires radical engineering design. “The ETI is uniquely placed to deliver the innovative engineering solutions such as this test facility that will accelerate the large-scale commercial deployment of affordable low carbon energy technologies and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

When complete, the facility will allow turbine manufacturers and engineering teams to test the reliability of their equipment under realistic load conditions without the expense and risk of deploying them offshore, added Clarke. It will also offer opportunities to component suppliers and research teams who will be able to test new technologies and designs more comprehensively and to offshore developers who will be able to validate the performance of equipment before putting it into service.