As our demand for energy continues to rise, we have had to look to different sources and improve what we have. To meet this demand we’re requiring larger and more efficient wind turbines. These things are HUGE… some of them can measure more than two football fields across! On July 20th we visited Clemson’s Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility. Built by a grant from the US Department of Energy, this state-of-the-art facility will be able to mechanically and electrically test new wind turbine systems. They also have a “Hardware-in-the-Loop Grid Simulator” which allows them to test how a wind turbine will affect any power grid (for example New York City) so that they can minimize that effect!
The facility is located in North Charleston at Clemson’s Restoration Institute. In Phase 1 the Institute will consist of The Warren Lasch Conservation Center, Advanced Materials Lab, Clemson International Center for Wind Energy Systems, and Graduate Education Center. Construction is on schedule. The smaller test rig is scheduled to begin testing in the fall, and the larger will follow in early 2013. After a presentation by Dr. Rigas, we donned our construction site apparel and marched off to the test site.
The building is huge!! They’ve just finished reinforcing the foundation, and the roof will be constructed soon. The Graduate Center will be right in front of it, right on the Cooper River. The design looks gorgeous, definitely makes me consider engineering… Maybe. It was really exciting for us to visit this site because we love to physically see things in motion!