National Renewable Energy Centre
Not for Profit
Industry Renewable energy
Energy efficiency
Founded 2002
Founder One North East
Headquarters Blyth, UK
Key people
Andrew Jamieson (CEO)
Services Testing

Narec, since 2014 known as the National Renewable Energy Centre, is a part of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, a UK technology innovation and research centre for offshore wind power, wave energy, tidal energy and low carbon technologies. The centre operates multi-purpose offshore renewable energy test and demonstration facilities.[1] It is very similar to other centres, such as NREL in the US[2] and National Centre for Renewable Energies (CENER) in Spain. The National Renewable Energy Centre is based in Blyth, Northumberland.


Originally known as NaREC (New and Renewable Energy Centre), the centre was created in 2002 by One NorthEast, the North East regional development agency, as part of the Strategy for Success programme.[3] In 2010 the organisation changed its name to Narec (National Renewable Energy Centre).[4] In April 2014, the organisation merged with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to focus on the development and cost reduction of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy across the UK.[5][6]

The organisation was originally involved in a wide range of technologies, including:

In 2010, due to UK government cutbacks Narec closed, sold off or separated different parts of the business. Now, Narec itself concentrates on testing blades and drive trains for marine renewables. Spin off companies include:

Narec Distributed Energy - An organisation which deals with microrenewables, energy efficiency, low carbon transport and city wide energy planning.[8] Narec Distributed Energy is 100% owned by Narec.

Narec Solar - 8% owned by Narec, and 92% owned by the Swedish firm Absolicon. This organisation is focused on silicon photovoltaic cells[9][10][11]

Narec Capital - A financial organisation run by Narec and Ashberg Limited.[12]

Narec Capital Risk Solutions - Beyond its existence, there is very little information on what this organisation does.[9]

Following its merger with ORE Catapult, the National Renewable Energy Centre now focuses on helping to de-risk and accelerate the development and commercialisation of the offshore renewable energy industry in the UK.


The National Renewable Energy Centre is involved in:

Wind turbine rotor blades

Product certification, verification and investigations for the next generation offshore wind turbines.[13][14][15][16]

Power trains and components

3MW and 15MW facilities that can perform independent performance and reliability assessments of full systems and components.[17][18]

Electrical networks

UKAS accredited laboratories with specialist test and measurement facilities to help develop technologies needed for developing power systems and exploring life extension opportunities for ageing assets.[19]

Subsea trials and demonstrations

Controlled onshore salt water location for all stages of technology development.[20]

Resource measurement and assessment

Open access facility for testing, calibrating and verifying remote sensor technologies[21]

Closed facilities

Clothier High Voltage Laboratory

The Clothier Electrical Testing Laboratory was opened in 1970 by A. Reyrolle & Company. Narec took over the facility in 2004. The reason it was of interest to the renewable energy organisation was to use it to test the robustness of electrical infrastructure offshore locations to onshore sites, as well as to big load centres in the centre of the UK.[22]

Although one of the only high voltage testing facilities in the world, and completely unique in the UK, the facility was closed by Narec in 2011 due to a lack of government funding.[23]

Many parts of the lab were relocated to Narec's main campus in Blyth. The ruins of the original lab are now the property of Siemens.[24]

Current facilities

Charles Parsons Technology Centre

Built in 2004, this £5m facility contains a low voltage electrical laboratory for the testing of connecting renewable energy systems to the transmission and distribution grid.[25] Some of the equipment and staff from the closed Narec Clothier Electrical Testing Laboratory were moved to this facility[26]

Training tower

This is a 27m high tower, for training of offshore wind technicians.[27]

Dry docks

Tests marine devices with three modified dry docks.[28]

Power train test facilities - 3MW and 15MW

Facilities that can perform independent performance and reliability assessments of full systems and components.[18]

Blade test 1 & 2

The blade testing facilities at National Renewable Energy Centre are designed to test wind turbine blades up to 100m in length. Blades are tested using a Compact Resonant Mass (CRM) system. ORE Catapult is working on a technique of blade testing known as "Dual Axis".[29][30]

European funded research

ORE Catapult is involved in a number of European funded research projects including Tidal EC, Optimus, LIFES50+[31]

Conferences and papers

Narec staff have written papers which have appeared in journals and international energy conferences. These are mainly in the subjects of photovoltaics, wind, marine, and electrical infrastructure. A short list of some of these is given below:


  1. "Test & Demonstration assets - Catapult". Retrieved 2015-12-08.
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  6. "Narec to merge with Glasgow's Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult". journallive. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  7. "Welcome to NaREC". Archived from the original on 16 February 2008.
  8. "Narec Distributed Energy - National Renewable Energy Centre Group". Narec Distributed Energy.
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  10. "Solar Capture Technologies - Home - Solar Capture Technologies". Solar Capture Technologies.
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  12. journallive Administrator (4 July 2011). "Narec Capital looking to raise £300m of funding". journallive.
  13. "North American Windpower: ETI Invests In Narec Offshore Wind Test Facility".
  15. "Narec reveals plans for giant turbine blade testing facility".
  17. "Construction begins on the world's largest wind turbine drive train test facility". ETI. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  18. 1 2 "Samsung to test 7MW offshore turbine at UK's new Narec facility - Renewable Energy Focus". Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  19. "Catapult lab raises HV ceiling". reNEWS - Renewable Energy News. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  20. "UK: Tekmar Demonstrates Its Cable Protection Systems at ORE Catapult". Subsea World News. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  21. "Axys to deploy WindSentinel at UK's ORE Catapult". Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  23. "Plug could be pulled on testing lab".
  24. "Urban explorers highlight the decay of the highest voltage lab in the world".
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  27. Elsevier Ltd, The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1GB, United Kingdom. "Narec's wind turbine training tower ready for use".
  28. "New boss takes over at NaREC".
  29. "Conference programme - EWEA 2015 Event". Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  30. "New Modular Blade Dynamics Wind Turbine Blade Begins Testing In Blyth". CleanTechnica. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  31. "Our community - Catapult". Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  35. "Bivariate empirical mode decomposition and its contribution to wind turbine condition monitoring". Journal of Sound and Vibration. 330: 3766–3782. doi:10.1016/j.jsv.2011.02.027.
  36. M.A. Mueller-N.J. Baker-L. Ran-N.G. Chong- Hong Wei-P.J. Tavner-P. McKeever. "IET Digital Library: Experimental tests of an air-cored PM tubular generator for direct drive wave energy converters".
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