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The world’s first rapid testing facility for tidal turbine blades has officially opened. The $5.64 million (£4.6 million) facility aims to test tidal turbine blades under harsh conditions. Those behind the project hope that the facility eventually accelerates the development of marine energy technology and lowers costs.
FastBlade opened the facility in Fife, Scotland, on 13th May as part of a partnership with the University of Edinburgh and Babcock. The facility is based at Babcock’s Rosyth site at Fife and was opened by the UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord. It is supported by a £1.8 million grant from the Government alongside the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
FastBlade’s developing technology will stress test blades made from composite materials. The blades must withstand difficult ocean conditions for approximately 20 years– it must do so quickly and use less energy than any other facility. The facility will use a 75 metric ton reaction frame to apply powerful forces on more than 50 feet long turbine blades.
According to Conchur O Bradaigh, head of the University of Edinburgh’s engineering school, FastBlade will become ‘the world’s first dedicated test facility for tidal turbine blades’. He further adds that the facility would help maintain the leading international position of Scottish tidal turbine developers in the competition to find sources of safe and clean power. Technology at the facility will also be used to test wing components for aircraft and lightweight bridge sections.
Wave and tidal energy capacity installations in European nations jumped in 2021. According to WindEnergy figures, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2021. Scotland has a long alliance with North Sea gas and oil production; however, in recent years, it has also become a hub for businesses and developments focused on tidal power and marine energy in general.