About a month ago, Clemson University started construction on a $98 million wind turbine research facility that will provide a testing ground for newer and more powerful wind turbines. An old, 82,262 square foot military warehouse located in North Charleston will undergo 18 months of renovation to be turned into what the Charleston Post & Courier calls the “world’s most powerful wind-test facility.” Once completed, researchers at Clemson University Restoration Institute’s wind turbine test facility will be able to test drivetrains (weighing up to 400 tons) capable of producing 15 megawatts of power. Currently, research facilities can only test drivetrains producing up to 5 megawatts of power. At the facility, the harsh weather conditions that windmills are exposed to will be simulated by plugging wind turbine parts into a test bay that will then spin them rapidly and apply pressure at various angles. Wind turbine manufacturers will then have the reassuarnce they need in order to hoist their multi-mullion dollar machines into the air and start generating power. The video below is a 3-D tour of the park.
The project will make use of a $45 million grant from the Department of Energy. The grant was part of the money set aside for renewable energy projects within the $787 billion federal stimulus package approved in 2009. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the growing wind power industry could create 500,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2030. Local leaders in the Charleston area hope the project will lead to thousands of manufacturing and engineering jobs. $53 million in grant matching funds were raised by “a handful of South Carolina groups, including the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority and the state Department of Commerce.”
(Hat tip to Harold Manger)