This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 25, 2009

DOE Awards $45 Million for a Wind Turbine Test Facility in South Carolina

DOE announced on November 23 the selection of Clemson University to receive up to $45 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for a wind energy test facility that will enhance the performance, durability, and reliability of utility-scale wind turbines. To be located near Charleston, South Carolina, the Large Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing facility will enable the United States to expand its development and testing of large-scale wind turbine drivetrain systems. The DOE investment is designed to support jobs and strengthen U.S. leadership in wind energy technology by supporting the testing of next-generation wind turbine designs

Photo of a large, industrial motor turning a shaft connected to a complex piece of equipment.

The centerpiece of the new facility will be a large dynamometer to test wind turbine drivetrains, similar to this facility at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The dynamometer in the upper right is spinning the shaft of a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine gearbox.
Credit: Lee Fingersh, NREL

The Large Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing facility will feature power analysis equipment capable of performing highly accelerated endurance testing of drive systems for land-based and offshore wind turbines rated at 5-15 megawatts. The primary piece of test equipment is a dynamometer, which consists of an electric motor, a gearbox, and a monitoring and control system that work together to simulate the effects of varying wind conditions on the turbine drivetrains. (A similar, but smaller, dynamometer test facility is located at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.) Dynamometer tests of drivetrains are required to demonstrate compliance with wind turbine design standards. They also help to reduce wind turbine costs, secure product financing, and reduce the technical and financial risk of deploying new models of wind turbines. Operated as a non-profit organization, the new facility will be located at the Charleston Naval Complex and will be a part of the Clemson University Restoration Institute campus. See the DOE press release and the DOE Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program Web site.