The US Department of Energy has selected Clemson University 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.
Wind turbine sizes have increased with each new generation of turbines, and have outgrown the capacity of existing US drivetrain testing facilities. The Large Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing facility will enable the United States, which leads the world in wind energy capacity, to expand development and testing of large-scale wind turbine drive-train systems domestically.
The new facility will be located at the Charleston Naval Complex, a former Navy base in North Charleston, South Carolina, and will be a 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 (MW). These dynamometer 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.