THE world’s first testing facility for tidal turbine blades has opened in Scotland.

Based in Rosyth, Fife, the £4.6 million FastBlade facility will test blades made from materials which must withstand harsh weather for 20 years.

Scotland Office minister Malcolm Offord officially opened the facility on Friday.

He said: “The UK Government is delighted to support this rapid test facility with £1.8 million from EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), as part of UK Research and Innovation.

“Crucially, it will speed up the rollout of equipment that will capitalise on sustainable tidal power and underline Scotland’s place as a world leader in offshore renewables technology.

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“This test site, born from innovative research at the University of Edinburgh and engineering firm Babcock, will not only aid the UK’s net-zero ambitions, it will support thousands of skilled energy sector jobs as we transition to a more sustainable future.”

Blades of up to 50 metres long will be stress-tested by a 75-tonne reaction frame, carried out by powerful hydraulic cylinders. They will replicate the harsh conditions turbines withstand at sea.

Professor Conchur O Bradaigh, head of the school of engineering at the University of Edinburgh, said: “FastBlade will be the world’s first dedicated fatigue test facility for tidal turbine blades, and will help this emerging industry provide clean, reliable renewable energy at a reasonable cost to consumers.

“The facility will also help maintain the globally leading position of Scottish tidal turbine developers in the race to find sources of clean and secure power, as well as confirming the societal impact of the University of Edinburgh’s research and development efforts in marine renewable energy.”