Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Our Inventors Still Lead

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Our Inventors Still Lead

Article excerpt

For centuries the North-East has been famous as a coal-producing area, with Newcastle the first and greatest coal port in the world. "Carrying coals to Newcastle", although ironic, forever joins Newcastle with coal.

This proud tradition in energy was not just about providing the fuel to power the industrial revolution but the engineering too. For instance, Charles Parsons, who developed the turbine technology needed to drive power stations, used it.

The North-East even led development of clean energy, with Cragside at Rothbury in Northumberland being the first house in the world lit by hydroelectric power.

From this heady beginning, the North-East lost its lead, but now the region's role in energy provision is undergoing a revival.

As environmental concerns reshape the way we use and provide energy, the need to focus on non-carbon or low-carbon supplies is more urgent than ever.

And once again, innovation in technology is where the region is excelling and where opportunities lie.

Less than a mile off the coast at Blyth stand two familiar wind turbines. These twin structures were the UK's first offshore wind farm and at the time the largest erected offshore in the world. They lie in a demanding position, subject to the full forces of the North Sea.

Originally established as an experiment more than 10 years ago with seven onshore turbines at Blyth Harbour, they've even managed to achieve landmark status for many in Blyth.

The town is also home to a resource centre that is unique in the UK. Here a former shipyard fabrication shed has been transformed into a testing centre for larger turbine blades. This multi-renewable testing base, known as the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC, is one of only a few in the world capable of testing blades up to 70 metres long.

NaREC is a centre of excellence for new and emerging renewable technologies. …

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