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U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced, on November 23, the selection of Clemson University in South Carolina to receive up to $45 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for a wind energy test facility that will enhance the performance, durability, and reliability of utility-scale wind turbines. This investment will support jobs and strengthen American leadership in wind energy technology by supporting the testing of next-generation wind turbine designs.
"Wind power holds tremendous potential to help create new jobs and reduce carbon pollution," said Secretary Chu. "We are at the beginning of a new Industrial Revolution when it comes to clean energy and projects like these will help us get there faster."
The Large Wind Turbine DriveTrain [the components that delivery power] Testing facility will enable the U.S., which leads the world in wind energy capacity, to expand development and testing of large-scale wind turbine drive-train systems domestically. Wind turbine sizes have increased with each new generation of turbines, and have outgrown the capacity of existing U.S. drivetrain testing facilities. The new testing capability will ultimately improve U.S. competitiveness in wind energy technology, will lower energy costs for consumers, and will maintain rapid growth in the development and deployment of wind energy systems.
The new facility will be located at the Charleston Naval Complex, a former U.S. Navy base in North Charleston, South Carolina and will be part of the Clemson University Restoration Institute campus. The test facility will operate as a non-profit organization with a business model designed for sustainability, while providing ongoing state-of-the-art testing to wind turbine manufacturers.
The Large Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing facility will feature power analysis equipment capable of performing highly accelerated life testing of land-based and offshore wind turbine drive systems rated at 5-15 megawatts. These dynamometer [a device for measuring force or power] tests of drivetrains are required to demonstrate compliance with wind turbine design standards, reduce wind turbine costs, secure product financing, and reduce the technical and financial risk of deploying mass-produced wind turbine models.
The United States is committed to transforming the way it and the world uses and produces energy. President Barack Obama said, "the nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century economy."