Innovation & R+D capability

Leading Research and Innovation

The North East of England has always been known for cutting edge innovation in marine engineering and offshore energy.  It is leading the world in developing innovative solutions to overcome the issues when exploiting new oil, gas and offshore wind resources in more challenging environments.

Particular strengths lie in the development of new technology in subsea engineering in areas such as new cables, umbilicals, flexible pipes, ROVs, subsea ploughs and tractors.

In-house innovation and R+D is flourishing in companies such as Baker Hughes, Technip FMC, Bel Valves, SMD, Osbit and IHC.  These and others also make use of the world-leading R+D and testing assets located in Energy Gateway North East England. These include:

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

The UK’s flagship renewable energy technology innovation and research centre is a unique facility, located at Blyth, which offers the most comprehensive open access and independent test and research facilities anywhere in the world.

  • Wind turbine blade testing facilities which undertake structural testing of blades up to 100m in length (dynamic and static) in accordance with IEC and ISO standards.
  • 3 MW and 15 MW power train testing facilities are capable of performing independent performance and reliability appraisals of full systems and components.
  • The open access offshore anemometry platform is located in representative Round 3 conditions, 3 NM off Blyth, Northumberland.
  • High Voltage (HV) electrical systems test and measurement suite (UKAS accredited).
  • Open access shallow water testing facilities with an artificial seabed and two still water test tanks (up to 8m in depth). This controlled salt water environment is used in trials and demonstrations of new and innovative technologies.

Tyne Pressure Testing

Tyne Pressure Testing brings together industry and academia to create a world-class national centre for offshore and subsea engineering research and testing. It is aimed at developing new technologies using the unique array of six hyperbaric chamber and environmental test facilities – capable of testing technologies and materials at temperatures and pressures equivalent to those found at the very deepest ocean depths – up to 6,000m.

Tyne Pressure Testing has two facilities:

  • The first, at Killingworth, is Tyne Subsea’s hyperbaric test and certification centre with five hyperbaric chambers capable to testing down to simulated depths of 4,500m
  • The second, at the Neptune Technology Park on the Tyne, is the Newcastle University research and testing facility which can test to 600 bar, equivalent of 6,000m depth.

Centre of Excellence for Marine Hydrodynamics, Coatings and Materials

Opened in 2016 by Newcastle University, the facility includes a newly refurbished Emerson Cavitation Tunnel.  The cavitation tunnel is an experimental facility used to test propellers and turbine blades and is the only one of its kind in the UK.

Marine Testing Facility (Dry Dock) Neptune Energy Park

Subsea test and demonstration, engineering, fabrication, research & development and large scale construction projects.  This is a 218m x 32m x 11m deep dry dock which was used in 2017 to manufacture five concrete gravity based foundations for the EDF Renewables Blyth Offshore Demonstration Windfarm.

These first-class facilities are complemented by the world-renowned R&D expertise to be found at the North East’s five universities (Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside). Particular strengths are found in the Durham Energy Institute and the School of Marine Science & Technology, Newcastle University.