Spain's national Renewable Energy Centre, CENER, has received a EUR 48.35 million public sector loan to set up a wind turbine research and development, testing and certification complex. Being built in the Sangüesa district of northern Navarra region, it will comprise four buildings. Two will be dedicated to blades of up to 100 metres -- one housing a wind tunnel and the other for testing materials, structures, and loads. The third building is for optimising manufacturing processes, materials and composites. The fourth unit -- to be financed through a separate agreement -- will be for testing wind turbine drive trains. The centre will also have a mobile trailer unit for simulating grid faults on site and measuring turbine recovery response and capability. Part of the money will go to a nearby demonstration wind plant for newly developed turbines in the 3 MW to 5 MW size range. Full working operation of all of these projects is scheduled for the end 2007. Spanish manufacturers have already signed up to participate in all the projects. "The doors are fully open to other companies at home and abroad," adds CENER's Javier Sanz. CENER will pay back the loan using the proceeds of technology transfer and certification activity as part of its mission to be fully self-financing, though non-profit making. Sanz points out that the wind tunnel and drive train test beds are the only such facilities run independently in Europe and open to all companies. "The full scope of the projects will enable full turbine design development, together with performance verification, before large scale installation in the field," says Sanz. "That means companies won't have to risk putting up what are effectively prototypes at a commercial scale." When complete, the complex will enable CENER to issue type certification for turbines, in accordance with a 2004 agreement with Nordic classification society, Det Norske Veritas. CENER is vice-president of the European Measuring Network of Wind Energy, known us Measnet, which is establishing international criteria for evaluating wind power plant performance.
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