Sandia Announces Construction on Texas Wind Turbine Research Facility

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Sandia National Laboratories and its academic and private partners expect to have a state-of-the art wind turbine research facility in operation in October in Lubbock, Texas.

The first phase of Scales Wind Farm Technology Facility (SWIFT) is being constructed in partnership with Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Vestas and Group NIRE, a renewable energy development company.

The US Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is funding Sandia’s work, which will allow the use of the site for research.

Studies at the facility will initially focus on turbine-to-turbine interactions and innovative rotor technologies. Other areas for investigation include aero-acoustics and structural health monitoring of turbines using embedded sensor systems.

The SWIFT concept reflects a shared emphasis among the partners on lowering the cost of wind energy by maximizing the output of a wind farm rather than a single turbine.

The site will initially use three Vestas 300kW V27 turbines, which are smaller than utility-scale turbines. Sandia worked with Vestas to develop the site plan, uniquely tailored to study turbine-to-turbine interactions.

The site might eventually expand to include nine or more wind turbines, allowing researchers to learn how individual turbines and wind farms can integrate better with the grid.