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Narec (National Renewable Energy Centre)
Not for Profit
Industry Renewable Energy
Energy Efficiency
Founded 2002
Founder One North East
Headquarters Blyth, UK
Key people
Andrew Mill (CEO)
Services Prototype Development
Energy Consultancy
Subsidiaries Narec Development Services Limited (NDSL)
Narec Capital
Narec Solar
Narec Distributed Energy
Narec Capital Risk Solutions

Narec (National Renewable Energy Centre) is a UK centre for renewable energy and low carbon technologies. The centre develops prototypes, tests renewable devices to international standards, and is involved in installing low carbon technologies. It is very similar to other centres, such as NREL in the US[1] and National Centre for Renewable Energies (CENER) in Spain. Narec 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.[2] In 2010 the organisation changed its name to Narec (National Renewable Energy Centre).[3]

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

  • Wind (onshore and offshore)
  • Transmission and distribution
  • Photovoltaics
  • Oil and gas
  • Marine renewables
  • Fuel cells
  • Microrenewables
  • Biomass[4]

Since 2010 due to UK government cutbacks Narec has closed, sold off or separated different parts of the business. Now, Narec itself concentrates on testing blades and drive trains for marine renewables. The surviving other related parts of Narec are:

Narec Distributed Energy - An organisation which deals with microrenewables, energy efficiency, low carbon transport and city wide energy planning.[5] 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[6][7][8]

Narec Capital - A financial organisation run by Narec and Ashberg Limited.[9]

Narec Capital Risk Solutions - Beyond its existence, there is very little information on what this organisation does.[6]


Narec and its associated companies are involved in the following sectors:


Offshore Wind[edit]

Narec are involved in blade testing for wind turbines. The organisation is currently building new offshore wind testing facilities.[10][11][12][13]

Marine Renewables[edit]

Narec carry out small scale testing of marine renewable devices, such as the wave device Trident[14] and the tidal device Evopod.[15] New marine testing facilities are currently under construction.

Electrical Networks[edit]

In Narec's Clothier Laboratory the organisation was involved in high voltage testing. Work involved carrying out comprehensive testing and analysis services for transmission network operators, distribution network operators and manufacturers of electrical power equipment and accessories. Customers included National Grid plc.[16] Although Clothier is now closed some of these capabilities are now based in Blyth.[17]

Narec Distributed Energy[edit]

Energy Strategies[edit]

Narec Distributed Energy work with local authorities to design and carry out energy strategies. They have also released tools, such as the Microrenewables Toolkit, which can be downloaded from the company's website.[18]


Narec Distributed Energy run accredited installer and designer courses for photovoltaics, solar thermal and air source heat pumps systems.[19] Narec is a cluster partner of the North East England hub for the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies.[20]

Also, Narec Distributed Energy have now started carrying out training for offshore wind technicians.[21]

Low Carbon Transport[edit]

Narec Distributed Energy have been involved in the North East Plugged in Places project, which has resulted in a large number of electric vehicle charging posts being installed in North East England.[22] Additionally, Narec Distributed Energy has been trialling the CUE-V electric car.[23]

Narec Distributed Energy are part of a project looking at low carbon solutions for cargo ships known as Inomanship.[24]

Small Scale Wind Testing[edit]

Narec Distributed Energy carry out testing of small wind turbines, in accordance with IEC 61400-25, and in 2010 accredited Evoco's 10 kW system.[25]

Heat Pumps[edit]

There is currently a research project with Northumbria University and Narec collaborating to design a new methodology to test heat pumps.[26]

Low Carbon Housing[edit]

Narec Distributed Energy helped design and worked on the energy strategy of the Reed Street Carbon Negative development of 21 dwellings in South Shields.[27]

Narec Solar[edit]


Narec Solar was the photovoltaic division of Narec, it was sold in April 2013 and continues to operate as the independent company Solar Capture Technologies.[28]

Narec Solar carried out a large amount of research using their Photovoltaic Technology Centre (PVTC). The majority of research was based around laser grooved silicon cells and concentrator photovoltaics, with additional work on coloured photovoltaic cells.[29] As well as being involved in public funded research and development Narec Solar manufactured silicon based concentrator cells, niche modules and also carried out private industrial research and development. One area of specilisation was in copper plating of silicon solar cells.

Published papers on photovoltaics include:

  • LGBC Silicon Solar Cell with modified bus bar suitable for high volume wire bonding[30]
  • Process and device modelling for enhancement of silicon solar cell efficiency.[31]
  • Study on laser parameters for silicon solar cells with LCP selective emitters.[32]
  • Combining Laser Chemical Processing and Aerosol Jet Printing: an industrially relevant high efficiency front side for silicon solar cells.[33]

Closed Facilities[edit]

Clothier High Voltage Laboratory[edit]

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.[34]

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.[35]

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.[36]

Current facilities[edit]

Photovoltaic Technology Centre[edit]

Narec's Photovoltaic Technology Centre (PVTC) was created when Narec took over BP Solar's staff and assets. It has now become Solar Capture Technologies Ltd., which is an independent company to Narec[37] PVTC has taken part in a number of large European Seventh Framework Programme projects.

These are: ASPIS - A project based on a novel Parallactic Tracking technology concept that supports flat, fixed solar panels with internal concentration and dynamic suntracking.[38] APOLLON - A project to develop High Concentration Point Focus and Dense Array Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems based on monolithic and discrete multijunction technology with a final target cost of 2 €/Wp.[39] 20plus - A project for the development of extra thin silicon solar cells.[40]

Charles Parsons Technology Centre[edit]

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.[41] Some of the equipment and staff from the closed Narec Clothier Electrical Testing Laboratory were moved to this facility[42]

Training Centre[edit]

The Training Centre is a retrofitted 19th Century terraced house. The technologies retroffitted on are; internal insulation cladding, photovoltaics, solar thermal panel, a heat pump and low energy LED lights. The centre is used to train installers for these technologies.[43]

Training Tower[edit]

This is a 27m high tower, for training of offshore wind technicians.[44]

Dry Docks[edit]

Narec tests marine devices with three modified dry docks.[45]

Tidal Testing Facility[edit]

The Tees Barrage Tidal Turbine Test Facility, Located in Stockton, was opened in 2007. Narec claimed to be the only independent large scale tidal testing facility for device prototypes in Europe.[46]

Wave Flume[edit]

A simulated wave environment for the testing of prototype wave energy generation devices.[47]

Blade Test I[edit]

The blade testing facilities at Narec are designed to test wind turbine blades up to 50m in length. Blades are tested using a Compact Resonant Mass (CRM) system. Narec is working on a technique of blade testing known as "Dual Axis".

European Funded Research[edit]

Narec is involved in a number of European Collaborative Seventh Framework Programme projects, the majority of which are photovoltaic technology based. These are either match funded or 75% funded, with the rest of Narec's finance coming from Narec itself. The projects are:

Short Name Full Name Technology Total European Funding for Whole Consortium
LAB2LINE From the laboratory to the production Line[48] photovoltaics €1.27 million
APOLLON Multi-approach for high efficiency integrated and intelligent concentrating PV modules (systems)[48] photovoltaics €9 million
20PLμS 20 percent efficiency on less than 100 µm thick industrially feasible c-Si solar cells[49] photovoltaics €8.26 million
MARINET Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network for Emerging Energy Technologies[50] Wind, Wave and Tidal €4.88 million
SNAPPER The development of a novel rare-earth magnet based wave power conversion system - Snapper[51] Wave €1.39 million
INTESUSAL Demonstration of integrated and sustainable enclosed raceway and photobioreactor microalgae cultivation with biodiesel production and validation[52] Algae Biofuels €5 million
HIPRWIND High Power, high Reliability offshore wind technology[53] Offshore Wind €11.02 million
INOMANS²HIP INOvative Energy MANagement System for Cargo SHIP[54] photovoltaics and wind €2.18 million
ASPIS Active solar panel initiative[55] Photovoltaics €2.88 million
Total €45.88 million

Conferences and Papers[edit]

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:

  • “Snapper”. An efficient and compact direct electric power take-off device for wave energy converters.[56]
  • Availability and Estimation of Marine Renewable Energy Resources[57]
  • Marine Renewables: A Development Route Map for the UK[58]
  • Bivariate empirical mode decomposition and its contribution to wind turbine condition monitoring[59]
  • Experimental tests of an air-cored PM tubular generator for direct drive wave energy converters[60]
  • Fatigue testing of wind turbine blades with computational verification.[61]
  • Ensuring Reliability for Offshore Wind - Large Testing Facilities.[62]
  • Accelerating Technology Development for Round 3 Offshore Deployment.[63]
  • Electrical Network Testing & Simulation: An effective method of testing the fault ride through capabilities of Small Scale Distributed Generation[64]
  • Ensuring Reliability for Marine Renewable Drive Train Systems – Nautilus Testing Facilities[65]
  • LGBC Silicon Solar Cell with modified bus bar suitable for high volume wire bonding[66]
  • Process and device modelling for enhancement of silicon solar cell efficiency[67]
  • An intelligent approach to the condition monitoring of large scale wind turbines[68]
  • Lightning Arresters and Substation Protection[69]
  • Study on laser parameters for silicon solar cells with LCP selective emitters[32]
  • Low Cost, 100X point focus silicon concentrator cells made by the LGBC process[70]
  • Laser Grooved Buried Contact Concentrator Solar Cells[71]
  • Studying the Groove Profiles Produced for Fine Line Screen Printed Front Contacts in Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells.[72]
  • Investigation of cross wafer uniformity of production line produced LGBC concentrator solar cells[73]
  • Process Development of Coloured LGBC Solar Cells for BIPV Applications[71]
  • Process optimisation for coloured laser grooved buried contact solar cells[74]
  • Colour and Shape in Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Applications in the Built Environment[75]
  • Fine-Line Screen Printing in Large Area Laser Grooved, Buried Contact Silicon Solar Cells[76]
  • Progress of the LAB2LINE Laser Grooved Buried Contact Screen Printed Solar Cells Hybrid p-type Monocrystalline Process[77]
  • Development of Laser Fired Contact (LFC) Rear Passivated Laser Groove Buried Contact (LGBC) Solar Cells Using Thin Wafers[78]
  • The LAB2LINE laser grooved buried contact screen printed solar cells hybrid p-type monocrystaline process[79]
  • Integrated process and device 'TCAD' for enhancement of C-Si solar cell efficiency[80]
  • Screen printing in laser grooved buried contact solar cells: The LAB2LINE hybrid processes[81]
  • Surface passivation by silicon nitride in Laser Grooved Buried Contact (LGBC) silicon solar cells[82]
  • Optimisation of the front contact for low to medium concentrations in LGBC silicon solar cells[83]
  • Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Concentration Factors up to 100X[84]
  • Device Design and Process Optimisation for LGBC Solar Cells for Use Between 50X and 100X Concentration[85]
  • Design and Optimisation of Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Use At Concentration Factors Up To 100X[86]
  • Development of Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Use at Concentration Factors up to 100X[87]
  • Front contact modelling of monocrystaline silicon laser grooved buried contact solar cells[88]
  • Laser Grooved Buried Contact Concentrator Cells[89]
  • PC1D modelling of the efficiency of laser grooved buried contact solar cells designed for use at concentration factors up to 100X[90]
  • Front Dicing Technique for Pre-isolation of Concentrator Silicon Solar Cells[91]
  • Environmental sustainability of concentrator PV systems: Preliminary LCA results of the APOLLON project[92]
  • Process development of shape and colour in LGBC solar cells for BIPV applications[93]
  • A summary of the Havemor project – Process development of shaped and coloured solar cells for BIPV applications[94]
  • Process and device modelling for enhancement of silicon solar cell efficiency[95]
  • Technological and Financial Aspects of Laser Grooved Buried Contact Silicon Solar Cell Based Concentrator Systems[96]
  • First results on the APOLLON project multi-approach for high efficiency integrated and intelligent concentrating PV modules (systems)[97]


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External links[edit]