Tag Archive | safety equipment

35m turbine testing rig planned for the North East

TURBINE developers will soon have access to a 35m testing facility in the region to help drive the UK’s offshore wind energy generation.

A new turbine test rig is being built at Narec to enable turbine companies to bring their systems into operation sooner.

A bespoke 35m-high, 3,000sq building to house the test rig has been completed and handed over six weeks ahead of schedule.

It will be able to deal with the performance, endurance and compressed life testing of complete nacelles – the unit at the top of the tower housing the electricity generation system – up to 15megawatts (mw).

Andrew Mill, chief executive at Narec in Blyth, Northumberland, said: “We will be the first independent facility to undertake accelerated life testing of a next generation offshore wind turbine.

The early completion of building works is a significant achievement and we expect to have completed our first commercial test programme by the middle of next year.

The entire facility is bespoke, designed and built to ensure that larger turbines can be brought into operation sooner.

“It will have a significant impact on the improved design and operation of offshore wind turbines in the UK over the next 20 years.”

The Energy Technologies Institute is investing 25m in the Narec facility, by providing funding to GE Power Conversion and MTS Systems Corporation for the design, development and commissioning of the test rig.

Andrew Scott, ETI programme manager for offshore wind, said: “We are delighted with the new building, taking us all a step closer to the drive train test rig being fully installed at Narec.

“We look forward to the state-of-the art, open access test rig taking shape, and with it ultimately helping in the further expansion of the UK’s offshore wind industry.”

The new building – funded by a 10m from former regional development agency One North East – was handed over by Shepherd Construction which has built three new facilities on the site.

The installation of the 15mw capacity test rig by GE Power Conversion is well under way on site and involves a permanent magnet motor and the largest force application system of its type in the world, weighing over 400 tonnes.

Testing onshore improves the understanding of turbine performance and will verify new designs under simulated lifetime operating conditions and extreme events, such as storm conditions and electrical failures. Shepherd Engineering Services will remain on site in a coordination capacity during rig assembly.

Colin Sargeant, regional managing director at Shepherd Construction, said: “We are delighted to be handing over this new state-of-the-art facility to Narec. Having spent more than two years working on the project, the whole team feel privileged to have been involved in developing a facility that will help the UK to further advance the offshore renewable energy industry.”

Last month the project team for the construction of three new facilities at Narec were awarded the Robert Stephenson Award by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East. This was presented to Narec, Red Box Design, Shepherd Construction, Arup, Turner & Townsend and Heyrod Construction. Highlighting the “great technical ingenuity in both the design and construction processes”.

ICE judges said: “The requirements of the scheme set unique challenges for the designers to understand and calculate the huge loads applied during the testing process and the construction demanded tolerances more normally associated with a laboratory than a construction site.”

The 15mw capacity wind turbine drive train test facility will be commissioned this summer and is an open access facility.


Now is the time to start taking climate change seriously

THE weather is back in the news again and with the snow comes renewed fears of flooding. Last year was wet. Really wet. And in the same year that swathes of England were declared drought areas.

Such “extreme” weather will become the norm if the climate continues to change, for the worse, over the next century.

This long-term view often goes amiss in the reporting of our weather though, as does the cause behind the changes – greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2009, when world leaders met in Copenhagen for a damp squib of a global summit, climate change has seemingly disappeared from the collective conscience.

The “greenest government ever” is conspicuous by its absence, doing little of note to mitigate climate change, with ministers publicly at odds with each other on wind farm policy.

Similarly, across the pond, last year’s presidential candidates couldn’t bring themselves to seriously broach the topic, despite the US being responsible for a huge share of the world’s carbon emissions.

Closer to home though, climate change, or renewable technology at least, remains on the lips of many residents in Hull and the East Riding, though the two views can be at odds with each other.

In the former, big plans are afoot to make Hull a hub of green industry, with a sorely needed wind turbine factory on the banks of the Humber looking ever more likely.

In the East Riding, wind farm applications have flown in across the county, prompting vocal complaints from locals who have organised themselves to oppose the various schemes. One past battleground focused on Burton Fleming, the same village that found itself under water recently.

About two years ago, residents in and around the village campaigned against proposals for turbines nearby, with some saying the magnificent views would be spoiled.

It is a cruel irony that those views are now rather soggy. As applications spread, David Hockney even entered the debate, pining for the beauty of the Wolds.

He must have forgotten that as you crest the hills to the west of Warter, subject of his most famous recent work, the horizon is blighted by the power stations at Drax, Ferrybridge and Eggborough.

Often debates around wind turbines miss a crucial point though – what is really needed is wide behaviour change. Simply switching the ways we generate electricity, for example, is not enough.

To maintain current demand, we would need turbines everywhere, alongside lots of tidal, solar and probably some nuclear.

It is our lifestyles that are unsustainable and this is uncomfortable to comprehend. If we wish to avoid future extreme weather, then we must start taking climate change seriously.

I hope the people of East Yorkshire, with their peculiar links to green issues, are among the first to take action.

Hyundai adds new Elantra hatchback

The new-for-2013 Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback is a stylish, fuel-sipping, nimble car with surprisingly quiet interior and luxury touches that include a huge panoramic sunroof and a sliding center armrest.

Despite the name, though, this new Hyundai is not that much of a GT, or Grand Tourer, in performance.

In fact, the Elantra GT has the same 148-horsepower, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder engine that’s in the 2013 Elantra sedan.

This powerplant helps account for the Elantra GT’s notable federal government fuel economy rating of 28 miles per gallon in city driving and 39 mpg on the highway for an automatic transmission model. These numbers are near the top mileage ratings among gasoline-only-powered, five-door hatchbacks.

In the test car, body motions were minimized, the car made lane changes without fuss and handled an emergency maneuver with poise and confidence.

Even better, the Elantra GT’s compact size — it’s 14 feet from bumper to bumper, which is 9 inches shorter than the Elantra sedan — makes it easy to park and nudge into congested streets.

Note that while the Elantra GT is compact, it doesn’t feel lightweight.

There’s a nice, mostly flat rear floor with 34.6 inches of legroom, which is better than the 33.2 inches in the back seat of the Focus. The Golf has 35.5 inches of rear-seat legroom.

With rear seats folded down, cargo space in the Elantra GT expands to a generous 51 cubic feet.

Texture and appearance of the soft-touch plastic inside the car looked upscale, and optional leather upholstery was supple enough it wouldn’t be confused with vinyl.

The two-part, optional panoramic sunroof is a first in the segment, Hyundai officials said, and it really lightens the interior.

Not optional is a soft-touch cover over the center storage area that doubles as an armrest. It slides forward and back to accommodate both short-stature and tall drivers.

The extra large display screen in the middle of the dashboard afforded better-than-usual views from the rearview camera.

The outside lens of this camera, by the way, is kept clean from water, snow and dirt because it only comes out from beneath the Hyundai badge on the rear liftgate when the car is shifted into reverse.

In the tester, there was a brief closing/snapping sound at the back of the car as the lens retreated inside and the badge came back down.

The Elantra GT earned five out of five stars, overall, in federal government crash testing.

All safety equipment is standard, including seven air bags. One is for the driver’s right knee and helps keep the driver in proper position behind the steering wheel during a frontal crash.