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NaREC to Lead World in Wind Energy Development

The New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC), a leading UK-based independent R&D platform for new energy technologies, announced today that it will spearhead an aggressive initiative for developing sustainable and renewable energy by building the world's largest wind energy research and development facilities. By dedicating a comprehensive range of independent facilities for wind R&D, the campus will provide the world's only confidential platform for developing wind turbines above and beyond the current 5MW benchmark.

NaREC's progressive proposition also includes the world's largest blade testing facility which will be capable of testing wind turbine blades up to 100m in length, and full-scale on-and off-shore demonstration sites to support both developers of larger wind turbines and its associated supply chain. Engineering teams, manufacturers and operators will have the opportunity to utilize all of NaREC's facilities and resident team of wind technology specialists.

These plans are synergistic with the UK government's ambitious efforts to generate 15% of the country's electricity from renewable resources by 2020. Furthermore, NaREC answers the global demand for sufficient renewable energy applications that can reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

Leading-edge R&D, a smart workforce, a willing market and the right infrastructure have made North England home to a dynamic energy sector. NaREC is part of this dynamic sector and one of five centers of excellence.

Wind Energy Market and the US

The wind energy market continues to achieve tremendous growth rates. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the wind energy market will grow by over 155% to reach 240GW of total installed capacity by 2012. The offshore wind energy market is growing faster than the onshore segment. Offshore development will lend new momentum to growth in this market signifying the importance of development of mega-turbines, large scale resources and investments. "Installed wind capacity worldwide is growing by 20GW year on year," states Stephen Wilson, Director of Wind Energy at NaREC, "and by 2050, projections indicate a worldwide demand greater than 1000GW. The industry now needs to make rapid step changes in turbine technology, increasing capacity and improving reliability, to ensure that supply meets with such demands."

In the U.S, where the current electricity mix consists of about 50% coal, 20% nuclear, 20% natural gas, 6% hydropower, with the rest generated from oil and non-hydro renewables, the fate of a key federal incentive, the PTC (production tax credit), a major impetus for wind power R&D and installation, is set to expire at the end of this year. Although wind power is the fastest growing renewable energy sector in the US, a lapse in renewing the PTC could mean investments in wind energy projects could drop as much as 93%. Other obstacles to an increased deployment in the US include the lag in regional and interregional planning, and scarcity of access to technology and talent.

NaREC and North American Companies

North American companies now have their sights set on the North East region of England which has a fertile heritage of large-scale engineering, power generation technology, and a highly skilled workforce, to further their wind energy R&D endeavors. NaREC, which is already supporting wind turbine manufacturers around the world in the testing and development of their next generation wind turbines, has become instrumental in assisting North American companies remain leading-edge by securing attractive financial packages, access offices, as well as development, testing and assembly facilities. Case in point: California energy giant Clipper Windpower, Inc. has chosen to locate alongside NaREC to develop its offshore wind turbines. NaREC provides open access to its world-class facilities for prototype development services. This development program further advances current turbine technology with the introduction of a 7.5 MW wind turbine scale. This will be among the largest and most powerful offshore turbines in the world. This turbine will be able to generate electricity equivalent to one million barrels of oil within a 30-year life span. This endeavor seeks to directly prepare for and support the immense growth of the offshore wind manufacturing market.

Adds Ian Stewart, Vice President, "The benefits of the north east region to the renewables agenda is clear. The NaREC initiative has already proven to be a preferential conduit to the European market, and with complete access to top talent in engineering, research and manufacturing, ongoing supportive incentives, and our proposed platform, our partners will be able to meet the growing demands of supply."

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