GE will use the rig for the next generation of its 1.6MW platform, says Peter Hull, communications and marketing director at the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) in South Carolina.
Testing will run for six months but may be extended. Meanwhile, an un-named European turbine manufacturer has signed up as first customer of the centre's 400-tonne 15MW test rig starting in late spring.
Hull said the SCE&G Energy Innovation Centre is angled towards offshore turbines, and will help speed deployment of next-generation technology, reduce manufacturers' costs and boost US global competitiveness.
Located in a former navy warehouse with easy access to rail and water transport, it is claimed the facility can simulate 20 years' wear and tear on drive-trains in just a few months. Its proximity to the coast makes it ideal for US and international firms to test larger offshore turbines, say officials.
CURI's centre also feature an eGrid simulator, which mimics real-world grid conditions and can help understanding the interactions between wind technology and the grid.
The facility received a $47-million Energy Department grant, as well as about $60 million in outside funding. The centre's industry advisers include GE, Siemens, Vestas, Bosch Rexroth, Mitsubishi, Samsung and Duke Energy.