Narec (National Renewable Energy Centre)
Type Not for Profit
Industry Renewable Energy
Energy Efficiency
Founded 2002
Founder(s) One North East
Headquarters Blyth, UK
Key people Andrew Mill (CEO)
Services Prototype Development
Energy Consultancy
Divisions Distributed Energy
Wind & Marine
Electrical Networks
Subsidiaries Narec Development Services Limited (NDSL)
Narec Capital

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].


Narec is involved in the following sectors:


Narec carry out a large amount of research using their Photovoltaic Technology Centre (PVTC). The majority of research is based around laser grooved silicon cells and concentrator photovoltaics, with additional work on coloured photovoltaic cells[4].

Published papers on photovoltaics include:

  • LGBC Silicon Solar Cell with modified bus bar suitable for high volume wire bonding[5]
  • Process and device modelling for enhancement of silicon solar cell efficiency[6].
  • Study on laser parameters for silicon solar cells with LCP selective emitters[7].
  • Combining Laser Chemical Processing and Aerosol Jet Printing: an industrially relevant high efficiency front side for silicon solar cells[8].

Also, Narec carry out a large amount of feasibility studies on photovoltaics for various customers[9].

Electrical Networks

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[10]. Although Clothier is now closed some of these capabilities are now based in Blyth[11].

Energy Strategies

Narec 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[12].


Narec run accredited installer and designer courses for photovoltaics, solar thermal and air source heat pumps systems.[13]. Narec is a cluster partner of the North East England hub for the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies[14].

Also, Narec have now started carrying out training for offshore wind technicians[15].

Low Carbon Transport

Narec 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[16]. Additionally, Narec has been trialling the CUE-V electric car[17].

Narec are part of a project looking at low carbon solutions for cargo ships known as Inomanship[18].

Marine Renewables

Narec carry out small scale testing of marine renewable devices, such as the wave device Trident[19] and the tidal device Evopod[20]. New marine testing facilities are currently under construction.

Small Scale Wind Testing

Narec carry out testing of small wind turbines, in accordance with IEC 61400-25, and in 2010 accredited Evoco's 10kW system[21].

Heat Pumps

There is currently a research project with Northumbria University and Narec collaborating to design a new methodology to test heat pumps[22].

Low Carbon Housing

Narec helped design and worked on the energy strategy of the Reed Street Carbon Negative development of 21 dwellings in South Shields[23].

Offshore Wind

Finally, Narec are involved in blade testing for wind turbines. The organisation is currently building new offshore wind testing facilities.[24][25][26][27].

Closed Facilities

Clothier High Voltage Laboratory

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[28].

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[29].

Current facilities

Photovoltaic Technology Centre

Narec's Photovoltaic Technology Centre (PVTC) was created when Narec took over BP Solar's staff and assets [30]. 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 [31]. 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 [32]. 20plus - A project for the development of extra thin silicon solar cells [33].

Charles Parsons Technology Centre

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[34]. Some of the equipment and staff from the closed Narec Clothier Electrical Testing Laboratory were moved to this facility[35]

Training Centre

The Training Centre is a retrofitted 19th Century terraced house. The technologies retroffitted on are; internal insualtion cladding, photovoltaics, solar thermal panel, a heat pump and low energy LED lights. The centre is used to train installers for these technologies [36].

Training Tower

This is a 27m high tower, for training of offshore wind technicians [37].

Dry Docks

Narec tests marine devices with three modified dry docks[38].

Tidal Testing Facility

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[39].

Wave Flume

A simulated wave environment for the testing of prototype wave energy generation devices[40].

Blade Test I

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".

New Facilities

Narec is currently building new facilities. These are[41]:


A 15MW drive train test stand for wind turbines.


A 3MW drive train test stand for tidal energy generators.

Offshore Demonstrator

An offshore wind farm for testing whole wind turbines.

Blade Test II

A blade test facility for testing blades up to 100m in length.

European Funded Research

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[42] photovoltaics €1.27 million
APOLLON Multi-approach for high efficiency integrated and intelligent concentrating PV modules (systems)[43] photovoltaics €9 million
20PLμS 20 percent efficiency on less than 100 µm thick industrially feasible c-Si solar cells[44] photovoltaics €8.26 million
MARINET Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network for Emerging Energy Technologies[45] Wind, Wave and Tidal €4.88 million
SNAPPER The development of a novel rare-earth magnet based wave power conversion system - Snapper[46] Wave €1.39 million
INTESUSAL Demonstration of integrated and sustainable enclosed raceway and photobioreactor microalgae cultivation with biodiesel production and validation[47] Algae Biofuels €5 million
HIPRWIND High Power, high Reliability offshore wind technology[48] Offshore Wind €11.02 million
INOMANS²HIP INOvative Energy MANagement System for Cargo SHIP[49] photovoltaics and wind €2.18 million
ASPIS Active solar panel initiative[50] Photovoltaics €2.88 million
Total €45.88 million

Conferences and Papers

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. [51]
  • Availability and Estimation of Marine Renewable Energy Resources [52]
  • Marine Renewables: A Development Route Map for the UK [53]
  • Bivariate empirical mode decomposition and its contribution to wind turbine condition monitoring [54]
  • Experimental tests of an air-cored PM tubular generator for direct drive wave energy converters [55]
  • Fatigue testing of wind turbine blades with computational verification. [56]
  • Ensuring Reliability for Offshore Wind - Large Testing Facilities. [57]
  • Accelerating Technology Development for Round 3 Offshore Deployment. [58]
  • Electrical Network Testing & Simulation: An effective method of testing the fault ride through capabilities of Small Scale Distributed Generation [59]
  • Ensuring Reliability for Marine Renewable Drive Train Systems – Nautilus Testing Facilities [60]
  • LGBC Silicon Solar Cell with modified bus bar suitable for high volume wire bonding [61]
  • Process and device modelling for enhancement of silicon solar cell efficiency [62]
  • An intelligent approach to the condition monitoring of large scale wind turbines [63]
  • Lightning Arresters and Substation Protection [64]
  • Study on laser parameters for silicon solar cells with LCP selective emitters [65]
  • Low Cost, 100X point focus silicon concentrator cells made by the LGBC process [66]
  • Laser Grooved Buried Contact Concentrator Solar Cells [67]
  • Studying the Groove Profiles Produced for Fine Line Screen Printed Front Contacts in Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells. [68]
  • Investigation of cross wafer uniformity of production line produced LGBC concentrator solar cells [69]
  • Process Development of Coloured LGBC Solar Cells for BIPV Applications [70]
  • Process optimisation for coloured laser grooved buried contact solar cells [71]
  • Colour and Shape in Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Applications in the Built Environment [72]
  • Fine-Line Screen Printing in Large Area Laser Grooved, Buried Contact Silicon Solar Cells [73]
  • Progress of the LAB2LINE Laser Grooved Buried Contact Screen Printed Solar Cells Hybrid p-type Monocrystalline Process [74]
  • Development of Laser Fired Contact (LFC) Rear Passivated Laser Groove Buried Contact (LGBC) Solar Cells Using Thin Wafers [75]
  • The LAB2LINE laser grooved buried contact screen printed solar cells hybrid p-type monocrystaline process [76]
  • Integrated process and device 'TCAD' for enhancement of C-Si solar cell efficiency [77]
  • Screen printing in laser grooved buried contact solar cells: The LAB2LINE hybrid processes [78]
  • Surface passivation by silicon nitride in Laser Grooved Buried Contact (LGBC) silicon solar cells [79]
  • Optimisation of the front contact for low to medium concentrations in LGBC silicon solar cells [80]
  • Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Concentration Factors up to 100X [81]
  • Device Design and Process Optimisation for LGBC Solar Cells for Use Between 50X and 100X Concentration [82]
  • Design and Optimisation of Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Use At Concentration Factors Up To 100X [83]
  • Development of Laser Grooved Buried Contact Solar Cells for Use at Concentration Factors up to 100X [84]
  • Front contact modelling of monocrystaline silicon laser grooved buried contact solar cells [85]
  • Laser Grooved Buried Contact Concentrator Cells [86]
  • PC1D modelling of the efficiency of laser grooved buried contact solar cells designed for use at concentration factors up to 100X [87]
  • Front Dicing Technique for Pre-isolation of Concentrator Silicon Solar Cells [88]
  • Environmental sustainability of concentrator PV systems: Preliminary LCA results of the APOLLON project [89]
  • Process development of shape and colour in LGBC solar cells for BIPV applications [90]
  • A summary of the Havemor project – Process development of shaped and coloured solar cells for BIPV applications [91]
  • Process and device modelling for enhancement of silicon solar cell efficiency [92]
  • Technological and Financial Aspects of Laser Grooved Buried Contact Silicon Solar Cell Based Concentrator Systems [93]
  • First results on the APOLLON project multi-approach for high efficiency integrated and intelligent concentrating PV modules (systems) [94]


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