Coalition Including Texas Tech Selected to Test Large-Scale Wind Blades

A coalition of universities, government agencies and corporate partners including Texas Tech University is one of two recipients of up to $2 million in test equipment to develop large-scale wind blade test facilities.

Written by Cory Chandler

A coalition of universities, government agencies and corporate partners including Texas Tech University is one of two recipients of up to $2 million in test equipment to develop large-scale wind blade test facilities, helping accelerate the commercial availability of wind energy, the U.S. Department of Energy announced today.

Department of Energy Secretary Samual Bodman announced that the Lone Star Wind Alliance will negotiate Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) to design, build, and operate new facilities to test the next generation of wind turbine blades. The testing facility will be located in Ingleside, outside of Corpus Christi, and is expected to be operational in October of 2009.

The Texas Tech Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WISE), a national leader in wind studies, will play a number of roles in the coalition, including developing wind loading profiles – or determining the wind pressure that turbines are likely to bear – and wind resource assessments.

Its researchers also will provide insights and data gleaned during the center’s 37-year existence, said WISE Director Andy Swift.

"This coalition will help advance the development of wind energy in Texas and the nation through both research and education," Swift said.

The Lone Star Wind Alliance was selected along with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership in Massachusetts from among six applicants. The two consortia were selected to enter into agreements with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to build facilities to test large wind blades, with an ultimate goal of testing blades up to 330 ft. (100m) in length. NREL will work with states to provide equipment and technical assistance for development and operation. This capability will help the rapidly growing wind industry achieve President Bush’s vision that wind energy has the potential to supply up to 20% of the electricity consumption of the United States.

Including the DOE investment, total project costs of each test facility will total approximately $20 million. The DOE investment (Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009) is subject to Congressional appropriations. The Lone Star Wind Alliance has pledged approximately $18 million from state and private sources for initial capital and startup costs.
"This is an exciting opportunity for Texas Tech," said Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance. "Texas Tech is a leader in wind research, and as part of this coalition, our university is taking another step in ensuring that Texas and the nation have the resources to meet our future energy needs."

Alliance members include The Lone Star Wind Alliance, a Texas-led coalition of universities, government agencies, and corporate partners includes the University of Houston; the Texas General Land Office; Texas Workforce Commission; Texas State Energy Conservation Office; Texas A&M University; Texas Tech University; University of Texas–Austin; West Texas A&M University; Montana State University; Stanford University; New Mexico State University; Old Dominion University; the Houston Advanced Research Center; BP; DOW; Huntsman; and Shell Wind.

Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, founded in 1970, generates leading research on wind energy and wind-related events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Through its multidisciplinary approach, researchers have advanced the concept of in-home storm shelters and led in developing the Enhanced Fujita Scale for the National Weather Service.

For more information, visit http://www.wind.ttu.edu/.

CONTACT: Andy Swift, director, Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, College of Engineering, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3476, ext. 342, or andy.swift@ttu.edu.