Vestas joins DOE, Texas Tech to break ground on unique wind research facility

15 July 2013 by Carl Levesque Carl Levesque

The never-ending push to improve the fundamentals of wind turbines, which have become many times stronger and more efficient through the years, continues.

The Department of Energy and Vestas Wind Systems last week joined with Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University to break ground on a new state-of-the-art wind turbine test facility in Lubbock, Texas, that will focus on how turbines at wind farms affect one another.

The Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility is the first public facility of its kind in the world to use multiple wind turbines to measure how wind turbine wakes interact with one another at a wind farm. Administration officials linked the groundbreaking to President Obama's “all-of-the-above” energy strategy involving the development of all available sources of American energy.

Officials at the dedication included Texas Tech president M. Duane Nellis
(far left) and chancellor Kent Hance (far right); Jose Zayas, Director of the
U.S. Department of Energy's Wind and Water Power Technologies Office
(second from right); and representatives of Vestas and Sandia National

The SWiFT facility has advanced testing and monitoring capabilities, as well as space for up to 10 wind turbines, allowing researchers to examine how larger wind farms can become more productive and collaborative. The facility, which will host both open-source and proprietary research, is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, the Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, Group NIRE, and global wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems.

The facility will address the important goal of increasing the performance of current wind farms to reduce the cost of wind power. In addition, one of the SWiFT facility’s objectives is to reduce power losses and damage caused by turbine–turbine interaction, enhance energy capture and damage-mitigation potential of advanced rotors, and improve the validity of aerodynamic, aeroelastic, and aero-acoustic simulations used to develop innovative technologies.

Photo Credit: Texas Tech University

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