Working together to measure conditions for offshore power

Jim McColl's David Brown Gear Systems business is joining forces with Strathclyde University and wind farm developer SgurrEnergy to setup a £1.6 million research centre to develop equipment for measuring offshore wind conditions.

The Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring will look at how to improve the efficiency of offshore wind farms so they require less maintenance, which is expensive and time consuming.

The centre's first project will focus on how to remotely detected wear and tear in the gear boxes of offshore wind turbines.

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Strathclyde University principal Jim McDonald said: "To achieve our ambitious energy targets and realise the potential of offshore wind, it is critical that we bring together engineering expertise through research collaboration between academia, industry and the public sector."

Ian Irvine, technical director at SgurrEnergy, added: "Offshore wind projects can be difficult working environments and costs can be extremely high.

"Quality information on wind farm operational performance is essential to ensure that optimum decisions can be made."

McColl's Clyde Blowers engineering empire has made a series of moves into the renewable energy sector.

In February, David Brown took an equity stake in Edinburgh University spin out NGenTec, which is developing a system that would replace the gears used in wind turbines with a series of electromagnets.

David Brown has also opened a manufacturing facility in China, received a 2.5m UK government grant and set up a turbine gearbox repair business.

Ian Farquhar, managing director for wind at David Brown, said: "We have a clear growth strategy, developed around expanding in key global markets including renewable industries such as wind and solar.

"We have been using our vast knowledge and experience to design gearboxes for the offshore wind market."