The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) has received approval from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to develop the grid-connected Blyth offshore wind demonstration site in the UK.
The proposed project calls for the construction of up to 15 pre-commercial prototype turbines, with up to five turbines in each array and positioned in water depths between 35m to 58m and distances from the coast between 5.7km to 13.8km off the east coast of Blyth in Northumberland.
In addition to this, Narec has also received consent from the Northumberland County Council to develop the supporting onshore infrastructure including the electrical substation to supply the output from the demonstration project to the grid.
The £350m (€419m) project is expected to be built on an array-by-array basis in three construction phases, with construction set to begin in the first half of 2014 and completed by the end of 2016.
The project, which is claimed to be the UK's first large-scale deep water demonstration site to be awarded both offshore and onshore permits, will enable developers to test next-generation offshore wind technology cost-effectively in realistic environmental conditions before commercial production.
The project will also help manufacturers reduce notable risks and costs associated with developing such new technologies that will be needed in Round 3 projects.
Turner & Townsend was responsible for the project management of the project, while Natural Power was assigned to coordinate and produce an environmental statement and associated documentation.
Narec chief executive Andrew Mill said the company has reached an important milestone on the project that was made possible by the project team, including consultants Natural Power and Turner & Townsend.
"We're now in talks with potential investment partners to build out the demonstration site. Construction of the first array is targeted to be completed in 2015," said Mill.
In February 2010, the project received approval from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Image: Image taken from location of the 99MW offshore demonstration wind site looking towards Blyth, Northumberland with Narec's offshore anemometry platform in the foreground. Photo: courtesy of National Renewable Energy Centre.