Hunterston

  • Category: Renewables
  • Energy type: Offshore wind
  • Project type: Project

Testing is underway at the UK's first offshore wind turbine test facility at Hunterston in North Ayrshire.


The Hunterston Offshore Wind Turbine Test Facility is the UK’s first onshore test site for offshore wind turbines and will be an extension of SSE’s Glasgow based Centre of Engineering Excellence for Renewable Energy (CEERE). SSE is working closely with supply chain partners Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Europe, Ltd following construction to test their latest turbine technology on two of the berths at the site.


On Friday 13 January 2017, SSE submitted a Section 42 Application to North Ayrshire Council to extend the current planning consent for the Test Facility by a further two years.  If consented, this would extend the life of the site until October 2019.

Quick overview

Siemens 6MW direct drive turbine – tip height of 177m with a rotor diameter of 154m

Mitsubishi 7MW Sea Angel turbine – tip height of 193.5m with a rotor diameter of 167m

The Hunterston facility has been instrumental in securing Scotland's place as an international leader in offshore wind energy research and development. To date the Hunterston project has injected £32.4m into the Scottish economy with £4.1m of this in North Ayrshire.

During the existing testing period the facility has allowed Siemens to use the 6MW test machine to refine their 7MW turbine which will be deployed at the Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Outer Moray Firth as well as other UK offshore wind farms. Mitsubishi testing has included the Artemis hydraulic system which has secured employment and provided excellent data for future offshore turbine designs and projects.

Latest news

SSE is looking to extend the current planning consent for the Hunterston offshore wind turbine test facility in North Ayrshire by two years. A Section 42 Application was submitted to North Ayrshire Council on Friday 13 January 2017.

The extension to the consent period would enable a full five year operating window and the chance to further refine the important data and findings following early stage project delays.

Since the project’s community fund began in 2013, £183,180 has been invested in grant payments across 68 local projects.  The fund has been welcomed by a broad variety of local clubs, groups, festivals and schools to run events, buy new equipment and improve facilities.

If successful this extension to the test site will allow SSE to assist with the continued development of offshore wind technology as well as providing a facility with Siemens for training future offshore wind technicians.

Construction time-lapse

You can see how a turbine is assembled at the Hunterston test facility in this quick video.

If you have a concern about the Hunterston site, please call 0800 0726 456.

The details will be passed to the Council who will decide if the concern is valid and, if it is, we will investigate and respond within 30 days to both you and the Council.

More information

Project information

Consented in February 2012, the Hunterston Offshore Wind Turbine Test facility, located in North Ayrshire, is the UK’s first onshore test site for offshore wind turbines and will be an extension of SSE’s Glasgow based Centre of Engineering Excellence for Renewable Energy (CEERE). Construction works commenced in March 2013 with RJ McLeod appointed as the Principal Contractor for the project. SSE is now working closely with supply chain partners Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Europe, Ltd following construction to test their latest turbine technology on two of the berths at the site. The third berth will be operated by Scottish Enterprise who has committed part funding from the National Renewables Infrastructure Fund towards the project. This berth will be leased to a turbine manufacturer which has firm plans to invest in the Scottish off-shore wind supply chain.

Scottish Enterprise submitted a planning application on 27/01/16 (reference 16/00060/PP) for a single offshore demonstrator turbine up to 220m in height to blade tip; and associated infrastructure including turbine foundations, crane hardstanding and underground cabling. This application has since been withdrawn and SSE and Scottish Enterprise are currently working to consider the best options for applying to take the site forward.

The development of the Hunterston test site has also been supported by invaluable funding from UK government departments – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This funding forms part of the Efficient Offshore Wind Programme.

The Report by DTU Wind Energy, which can be found below under Important Documents, is aimed at assessing whether a lidar placed on the nacelle or the transition piece (TP) of an offshore wind turbine could be used for power curve verification instead of a met mast. This report presents the results obtained with both the TP lidar and the nacelle lidar  installed on an offshore wind turbine in the Greater Gabbard wind farm, located in the North Sea about 23 km from Lowestoft, Suffolk. The site, the measurement set up and the dataset collected are described within the first section of the report. The performances of each lidar are then discussed and finally the power curves measured by the two lidars are compared to the met mast power curve in terms of AEP and uncertainty. This work has been supported by funding awarded to Hunterston NOWTTF by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Technology Strategy Board’s Offshore Wind Component Technologies Development and Demonstration Scheme.

Hunterston’s wind resource, which replicates offshore conditions, coupled with its existing grid connection, make it an ideal site for the testing facility which has a key role in developing the UK’s offshore wind supply chain. The advantage of testing turbines on land is that it permits the manufacturer 24 hour access to make modifications and repairs, which is critical particularly for early series prototype turbines.

The facility will have a key role in developing the UK’s offshore wind supply chain by allowing manufacturers to demonstrate the reliability of the next generation of larger capacity turbines ahead of deployment offshore.

Press release

SSE seeks time extension for Hunterston offshore wind test site


17 January 2017


SSE is looking to extend the current planning consent for the Hunterston offshore wind turbine test facility in North Ayrshire by two years. The site, currently home to a 6MW Siemens offshore wind turbine and a Mitsubishi 7MW Sea Angel offshore turbine, is the only functioning national onshore test facility for offshore turbines in the UK.


The extension to the consent period would enable a full five year operating window and the chance to further refine the important data and findings following early stage project delays. The Hunterston facility has been instrumental in securing Scotland's place as an international leader in offshore wind energy research and development. To date the Hunterston project has injected £32.4m into the Scottish economy with £4.1m of this in North Ayrshire.


Sean Kelly, Hunterston Project Manager, said; “The Hunterston test site is a unique facility that we believe still has much more to give to the offshore wind industry. The team is hopeful that we can extend the site for another two years to complete its current testing and research programme.

“The Hunterston site has not only brought benefits to the offshore wind industry and economic benefit to the region, the communities close to the wind farm have also benefited from the Hunterston Community Fund which is providing £250,000 over the current five years of the project.”

During the existing testing period the facility has allowed Siemens to use the 6MW test machine to refine their 7MW turbine which will be deployed at the Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Outer Moray Firth as well as other UK offshore wind farms. Mitsubishi testing has included the Artemis hydraulic system which has secured employment and provided excellent data for future offshore turbine designs and projects.

Since the project’s community fund began in 2013, £183,180 has been invested in grant payments across 68 local projects.  The fund has been welcomed by a broad variety of local clubs, groups, festivals and schools to run events, buy new equipment and improve facilities.

If successful this extension to the test site will allow SSE to assist with the continued development of offshore wind technology as well as providing a facility with Siemens for training future offshore wind technicians.

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Hunterston Siemens 600 300

First power exported from Hunterston Offshore Wind Turbine Test Facility

SSE Renewables, the renewable energy development division of SSE, reached a significant milestone after electricity was exported for the first time from its offshore wind turbine test facility at Hunterston.

Incorporating its latest offshore turbine technology, the Siemens SWT-6.0-154 177 metre high 6 Megawatt (MW) direct drive wind turbine began generating clean wind powered electricity in March 2014.

Ian Flannagan, SSEs Project Construction Manager, said “It’s great to see the Siemens wind turbine generating electricity for the first time which is testament to the hard work and commitment shown by everyone involved in the project. We are busy preparing the site ahead of the second turbine, a Mitsubishi SeaAngel 7MW offshore wind model, arriving in a few months time.”

The Hunterston site, on the North Ayrshire coast, has similar wind conditions to those found offshore, access to the Grid and an adjacent jetty for facilitating component deliveries making it an ideal location for turbine manufacturers to test their latest turbine equipment before deploying it offshore.

Clark MacFarlane, Managing Director, Siemens Wind Power Offshore UK&I said: “We are delighted with the news of first power for our 6MW turbine at Hunterston. This is another important milestone for our next generation wind turbine technology. The SSE and Siemens team has worked extremely hard to get to this point and should feel proud of their achievement in delivering this important clean energy project.”

The project, the UK’s first onshore test site for offshore turbines, is being supported by Scottish Enterprise, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department of Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS) recognising its significance in helping to establish Scotland as a centre of expertise in offshore wind development.

Energy and Climate Minister, Greg Barker said: “SSE Renewable’s test site for offshore wind turbines is an exciting and innovative project that will help the country take another step towards delivering £110 billion investment into our energy sector while helping to support local jobs.

“Our long term economic plan is not only working, it is supporting the development of home-grown energy technologies that deliver cleaner, more affordable energy for hardworking consumers, including £15 million to further support innovative offshore wind projects.”

Construction work continues at the second berth on site preparing the foundation for the Mitsubishi turbine which is expected to arrive on site for assembly and commissioning in summer 2014.

The third berth will be operated by Scottish Enterprise and will be leased to a turbine manufacturer which has firm plans to invest in the Scottish offshore wind supply chain.