Samsung shelves Narec tests amid offshore freeze

Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) is icing plans to test a 7MW wind turbine drive-train at the UK's National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec), Recharge learned today, confirming that the Korean group’s strategic review of the sector is set to keep it out of contention for big European projects indefinitely – and could leave MHI Vestas Offshore with a clear run at a major deal.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (Orec), which took over the Narec facility as part of a merger in April, said today it had been "advised [by SHI] of potential termination" of the testing programme cued up at the newly-commissioned 15MW Narec rig.

An Orec spokeswoman adds: "We continue to engage with Samsung around their future participation in offshore wind, whilst in parallel working with all parties on the commissioning programme for the 15MW wind turbine nacelle test rig, the contracts for which are principally between ETI [the UK Energy Technologies Institute] and GE [which built the test rig]."

The drivetrain was being developed alongside the 7MW prototype already in place at Methil, Scotland.

The news comes as SHI confirmed it is “considering its future” in the sector, days after Recharge revealed the review would take place, though it denied it is giving up on offshore altogether.

The indefinite timetable of the review means Samsung will not be placed to compete for the big UK Round 3 turbine contracts up for grabs soon.

Samsung was in the running along with MHI Vestas Offshore for a supply deal at the EDPR-led 1.1GW Moray Firth offshore wind development in Scotland. But this week’s news looks to put the Japanese-Danish joint venture in pole position for the contract.

Despite its rapid progress in deploying its prototype in shallow waters in Methil, Fife, SHI faces formidable rivals for the orders needed to make an impact in a European offshore wind sector that is set to be smaller than seemed likely a few years ago.

Those rivals include Siemens, Alstom and Areva, as well as MHI Vestas Offshore.