Clemson turbine test facility world's most advanced, manager tells wind conference

The testing facility under construction at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston will be the world's most advanced

June 6, 2012

ATLANTA Clemson University is building a testing facility that will have no rival in the highly competitive global wind industry, the project manager said Tuesday.

The wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility under construction at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston will be the world's most advanced, said Jim Tuten. It will be the go-to facility to test next-generation wind turbines destined for wind farms anywhere in the world and designed and built for the specific needs of the industry.

Clemson students, scientists and staff showcased the facility during the WINDPOWER 2012 Conference and Exhibition this week in Atlanta. Clemson shared a booth with Renk Labeco Test Systems, the company designing and manufacturing the facility's two drivetrain test rigs.

The goal of companies that will use Clemson's facility will be to improve reliability and efficiency and reduce maintenance costs, Tuten said. To that end, more than 90 percent of major wind industry companies were represented on advisory boards that provided vital input to the facility's design and function.

"It will be an accredited testing facility for the industry accessible by water, road and rail," he said. "It will provide real-world testing without a need to go out into the real world."

In November 2009, Clemson University was awarded a $45 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop the testing facility. That was matched by $53 million in public and private funds.

The $98 million facility will be capable of testing next-generating drivetrains up to 15 megawatts. The facility's 7.5-megawatt test rig is scheduled to begin commissioning this fall, with the 15-megawatt rig to follow early in 2013.

Tuten spoke on a panel that addressed full-scale wind turbine testing and validation. Other panel members included Albert Fisas of ALSTOM Wind North America, Garrett Bywaters of Northern Power Systems and Alan Wright of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Tuten and Clemson student Curtiss Fox also presented posters at the conference.

The conference, which concludes Wednesday, featured exhibits and presentations by many of the world's wind industry leaders. The conference is the largest of its kind in North America, attended by 20,000 people from around the world.

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