Officials at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU), representatives from UL LLC (Underwriters Laboratories) and other dignitaries broke ground for a large scale wind turbine testing facility on June 4 at WTAMU’s Nance Ranch.
The ground-breaking ceremony marked a unique collaboration between WTAMU and UL in association with The DEWI Group, a UL company. The entities have signed a five-year contract to establish one of the largest wind turbine test facilities in the world at WTAMU. The UL/WTMAU Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility will provide services for both large wind and small and micro wind manufacturers as well research and design testing capabilities.
The facility will be in the middle of the Great Plains Wind Corridor, with favorable wind conditions year round. Wind turbine manufacturers will be able to erect turbines for extended periods of time. The facility opens new testing capacity for turbine manufacturers seeking certification to international standards, helping reduce time-to-market and lower costs, as downtime can essentially be eliminated.
“This facility allows UL, with the addition of knowledgeable services from our DEWI Group, to collaborate with WTAMU in providing small and large wind turbine manufacturers with a location that offers favorable wind resources,” Evelyn Butler, director of Business Development—Energy & Power Solutions at UL LLC, said. “This site is excellent for installing wind turbines for extended periods, for research, performance measurements and certification purposes. Due to these ideal wind conditions, UL’s turnaround time is unparalleled—allowing product to get to market faster—a win-win for manufacturers.”
WTAMU, a pioneer in wind energy research, offers several unique resources that made the project feasible, thanks to its location, availability of space, abundance of wind and proven expertise.
“We are the only university in the country with significant land and class four winds,” Dr. Don Topliff, dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering, said. “Plus, WTAMU has more than 40 years of experience in wind-energy research and turbines. These factors certainly make an attractive combination for this type of venture.”
UL is providing the funds to build the facility, and WTAMU is providing the land as well as the personnel to operate the UL/WTAMU Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility. The initial site of the facility will encompass 60 acres of land near Nance Ranch with an additional 2,400 acres available for development and growth. Key personnel will be Adam Holman, laboratory director, Byron Neal, wind energy research engineer, and Fred Oder, research technician along with WTAMU student workers. They will work with wind manufacturers to provide certification of wind turbines and its components, testing programs and consultations and data collection.