Clemson Lands US $98M for Wind Turbine R&D

Next-generation wind turbines and drive trains will be tested by the Clemson University Restoration Institute, thanks to a US $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Clemson University Restoration Institute and its partners will combine the grant with $53 million of matching funds, to build and operate a large-scale wind turbine drive train testing facility at the institute’s research campus on the former Navy base.

The testing facility will be housed in Building 69, a former Navy warehouse adjacent to existing rail and ship-handling infrastructure, and will be capable of full-scale highly accelerated testing of advanced drive train systems for wind turbines in the 5-15 megawatt (MW) range, with a 30 percent overload capacity. Planning and construction of the facility will begin in the first quarter of 2010 with a targeted operational date in the third quarter of 2012.

DOE estimates that South Carolina could gain 10,000 to 20,000 new jobs related to the wind power industry during the next 20 years. In the short term, the Restoration Institute estimates the initiative will create at least 113 temporary jobs associated with construction of the facility and 21 full-time jobs. It also will generate 568 indirect jobs for a total of 852 jobs.

Nick Rigas, director of the Clemson Restoration Institute’s Renewable Energy focus area, said the state-of-the-art testing facility, combined with South Carolina’s strengths that include outstanding port and large-scale shipbuilding facilities, local steel manufacturing and world-renowned research institutions, mean the state will play a central role in realizing the nation’s energy goals.

“The importance of this grant should not be understated,” Rigas said. “Clemson, together with the industry that will grow around the testing facility, will drive wind energy research nationwide.”

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