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University Partners With Leading Wind Turbine Manufacturer

The collaboration with Vestas will allow Texas Tech to participate in innovative wind energy research.

Written by Sally Logue Post

The Scaled Wind Farm Technology facility  will offer an outstanding opportunity to work with world-class partners to provide innovation in the wind energy community.

The Scaled Wind Farm Technology facility will offer an outstanding opportunity to work with world-class partners to provide innovation in the wind energy community.Click here to enlarge.

The wind farm partnership between Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech now includes Vestas, a leading wind turbine manufacturer.

The Scaled Wind Farm Technology facility (SWIFT) will be constructed at Reese Technology Center. Sandia will deploy two V27 research turbines at the site. Vestas will add its own 300-kilowatt, V27 turbine.

“This facility will offer an outstanding opportunity to work with our world-class partners to provide innovation in the wind energy community,” said John Schroeder, director of Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WISE).

While the three-turbine array will allow for collaborative research, each turbine can be used separately for specific projects. The SWIFT facility should be operational by October. Sandia announced in July it would move its wind energy test facility to Lubbock.

“Working with world-renowned partners allows Texas Tech to participate in innovative research opportunities in wind energy,” said Taylor Eighmy, Texas Tech’s senior vice president for research. “The addition of Vestas to the partnership with Sandia opens up new avenues of investigation and allows Texas Tech to move closer to its goal of becoming an international leader in renewable energy.”

“This will create a technology accelerator that allows Vestas to bring innovations to market rapidly and cost-effectively,” said Anurag Gupta, director of rotor systems at Vestas Technology R&D in Houston.

The site will use V27 turbines, which are smaller than full, industrial-sized turbines.

“The V27 turbines are the smallest turbines that retain significant characteristics to the study of larger-scale machines,” said Jon White, project manager and researcher in Sandia’s Wind Energy Technologies group. “Having smaller turbines makes them easier to reconfigure, repair and maintain. The cost differences mean researchers can do earlier-stage, higher-risk research at SWIFT and turn tests around much more quickly, allowing them to pursue a more robust annual research agenda.”

Studies at the site will investigate 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 site eventually could expand to include nine or more wind turbines, which would allow researchers to examine further how individual turbines and entire wind farms can become better “citizens of the grid” and how to be more productive and collaborative.

A flexible Memorandum of Understanding, signed by all four partners — Sandia, Vestas, Texas Tech and Group NIRE, a renewable energy development company — allows use of the site for collaborative and proprietary research, depending on research needs.

The Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Program is funding Sandia’s work.
Vestas has research and development offices in Texas, Massachusetts and Colorado that work with the company’s technology centers in Asia and Europe to improve existing wind turbines and develop the wind power systems of the future. Since 1979, Vestas has supplied more than 46,000 wind turbines in 69 countries and employs more than 3,000 people in the United States in technology research, manufacturing, sales and service.

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National Wind Institute
National Wind Institute

National Wind Institute (NWI) is world-renowned for conducting innovative research in the areas of wind energy, wind hazard mitigation, wind-induced damage, severe storms and wind-related economics.

NWI is also home to world-class researchers with expertise in numerous academic fields such as atmospheric science, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, mathematics and economics, and NWI was the first in the nation to offer a doctorate in Wind Science and Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy.

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