Visit windpowermonthlyevents.com for the latest on our upcoming conferences and webcasts

United States

United States

South Carolina set to emerge as global test facility capital

US: By the end of 2012, the world's biggest existing wind turbine test facility, run by Spain's National Renewable Energy Centre, Centro Nacional de Energias Renovables (Cener), will have US competition from South Carolina, with Cener's full blessing.

In November 2009, the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a $45 million grant to back the Clemson University Restoration Institute's proposal to invest $98 million in a wind turbine drive train test facility for 5-15MW machines. The remaining $53 million investment comes from non-wind industry players, including two private citizens, who put up $500,000 and $25,000.

"It's a public facility open to all customers, without alignment to any turbine manufacturer," says Peter Hull, spokesman for Clemson University.

Cener's role is as adviser on the technical advisory board, together with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The board includes turbine manufacturers including Vestas, Gamesa, Siemens, Nordex, Repower, Suzlon and GE Energy.

"Our job is to validate the test facility's design," explains Pablo Ayesa, one of the two Cener technicians on the 12-member board. The other is Gurutz Urzelai manager of Cener's Laboratorio de Ensayo de Aerogeneradores.

Both will draw on Lea's experience of building and validating its own large facility. Even so, the dimensions of the Clemson site are a challenge. The 15MW test rig will bear weights of up to 300 tonnes. "That's more than a fully loaded Boeing 787 aircraft," points out Hull.

Reflecting the scale of the equipment involved, the facility will occupy a former navy storage building of 7,643 square metres on the edge of Charleston Harbour.

For the first five years of operation, the only shareholders will be the university and DOE. Until then, the main private financer, German construction and engineering firm Renk AG, will act as non-shareholding partner, though benefitting from contracts to build and supply the new centre.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
[DAYS_LEFT] days Subscribe Now

Left of your Windpower Monthly free trial

Your free trial Subscribe Now

to Windpower Monthly has expired

Windpower Monthly Events

Search more than 4,500 companies in the Windpower Directory

Latest Jobs