Massive Test Facility For Wind Turbines Taking Shape

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Clemson University and its partners in South Carolina is pouring concrete for the first of two foundations that will house the world’s largest wind turbine drivetrain testing stands.

Choate Construction is building the $98 million facility at what is now part of the Clemson University Restoration Institute.The concrete foundation will form the base of the stand that will allow full-scale highly-accelerated testing of advanced drivetrain systems up to 7.5MW with 50Hz and 60Hz capabilities. It is scheduled to be operational in early 2013. The second test stand that will be able to accommodate next generation wind turbine drive trains up to 15MW will begin operation in spring next year.

The US Energy Department in November 2009 awarded a $45 million grant to the Clemson-led group under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help build and operate the project. South Carolina and private donors provided the about $53 million in matching funds.

Clemson’s public partners are the State of South Carolina, South Carolina Commerce Department, South Carolina Public Railways, South Carolina State Ports Authority and the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority.

The site is adjacent to existing rail and dockside infrastructure, essential for handling the heavy components.

University officials estimate the drive train testing center will create as many as 800 direct and indirect high-paying professional jobs.