NAUTILUS Project – 3MW Tidal Turbine Test Facility

/NAUTILUS Project – 3MW Tidal Turbine Test Facility

Client: National Renewable Energy Centre (NAREC)

Date: 2016

Duration: 3 Months

PES was awarded the Design and Build Subcontract to deliver Nautilus, a 3MW tidal turbine drive train test system at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, UK.

Nautilus is the first test rig of its kind in the world offering performance appraisal, reliability testing and certification of marine turbines at a low cost compared with sea trials. The £15m facility, built over an existing dry-dock, offers accelerated lifetime testing allowing developers to test and improve reliability. Two weeks of running can equate to four months of tidal sea trials without the associated costs of supporting an offshore test site.


Construction of the facility was complex; requiring heavily reinforced concrete, machined steel plates and a strong floor anchoring system to ensure the structures could withstand the forces exerted during testing. The floor of the facility was reinforced to a depth of 3.4m and approximately 7000 cubic metres of concrete was poured to withstand the weight and rigorous testing of the rig. The location on the North Sea coast threatened to hamper working conditions at times with an open sided building, driving rain and freezing conditions; instrument selection was key


Initial setting out within the building was carried out using the steel structure and construction datums using Leica TDA5005 total stations and Leica NA2 optical levels. Two Leica Absolute Tracker AT401s with SpatialAnalyzer® metrology software were used to mark out nominal positions to ±1mm over the 45m site length. The PES supplied anchoring systems were installed using the digital readout “Watch Window” to allow the engineers to obtain precise 3D locations of the base of the anchors and the top positions too.