Vestas to install research wind turbine at Sandia facility in Texas

Apr 18, 2012
SWIFT's initial three turbines are sited to allow for collaborative and individual research. Credit: Illustration by Chris Brigman

The initial phase of Sandia National Laboratories' Scaled Wind Farm Technology facility (SWIFT), currently being constructed in partnership with Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, will be a little bigger than originally planned. Leading wind turbine manufacturer Vestas will add its own 300-kilowatt, V27 research turbine to the two Sandia V27 research turbines.

The Labs worked with Vestas to develop the new three-turbine site plan, uniquely tailored to study turbine-to-turbine interactions. Sandia and Vestas will conduct collaborative research with all three turbines, although each turbine can also be used separately with minimal interaction.

"The Lubbock site benefits from resource and low turbulence, which is ideal for research," said Jon White, project manager and researcher in Sandia's Wind Energy Technologies group. "Wind at the site comes predominately from the south, making it easy to set up the turbine array for research on turbine-to-turbine interactions."

The SWIFT concept reflects a shared emphasis amongst the partners on lowering the cost of wind energy by maximizing the output of a wind power plant rather than a single turbine.

"This will create a technology accelerator that allows Vestas to bring innovations to market rapidly and cost-effectively," said Anurag Gupta, director of rotor systems at Vestas' Technology R&D in Houston. The site will use V27 turbines, which are smaller than full, industrial-sized turbines.

"The V27 turbines are the smallest turbines that retain significant characteristics to the study of larger-scale machines," White said. "Having smaller turbines makes them easier to reconfigure, repair and maintain. The cost differences mean researchers can do earlier-stage, higher-risk research at SWIFT and turn tests around much more quickly, allowing them to pursue a more robust annual research agenda."

Creating a new facility from the ground up also allows detailed characterization of the site and the turbine components before installation and testing. This gives researchers higher confidence in the accuracy of the wind turbine models they create based on research at the site.

Studies at the site will focus on turbine-to-turbine interactions and innovative rotor technologies. Other areas for investigation include aero-acoustics and structural health monitoring of turbines using embedded sensor systems. Researchers will also continue work on Sandia's structural mechanical adaptive rotor technology (SMART) program.

"Most wind rotors today are passive structures. Sandia's SMART rotors have active surfaces similar to airplane wings, with actuators that change their shape, allowing for greater control and flexibility," White said.

The site eventually might expand to include nine or more , which would allow researchers to further examine how individual turbines and entire can become better "citizens of the grid" and how to be more productive and collaborative.

White said the team hopes to have the SWIFT facility operational by October 2012.

A flexible Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by all four partners — Sandia, Vestas, Texas Tech University Science and Engineering (WISE) Center at Reese Technology Center and Group NIRE, a renewable energy development company — allows use of the site for collaborative and proprietary research, depending on research needs.

The Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is funding Sandia's work.

Explore further: Intel wireless charging in a bowl coming sooner than later

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vestas Announces New 7 megawatt offshore wind turbine

Apr 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Vestas Chief Executive Officer Ditlev Engel announced in London their new V164 wind turbine, designed specifically for offshore wind power. Optimized for conditions in the North Sea, Vestas ...

Smart wind turbines can predict the wind

Jan 05, 2010

Risø DTU researchers have recently completed the world’s first successful test on a wind turbine with a laser-based anemometer built into the spinner in order to increase electricity generation.

Noise research to combat 'wind turbine syndrome'

Jun 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Adelaide acoustics researchers are investigating the causes of wind turbine noise with the aim of making them quieter and solving 'wind turbine syndrome'.

Computer model optimizes wind farm

Jul 25, 2011

A new software from Siemens will improve wind farms’ energy yields and extend their service life. When the wind causes the huge rotors to turn, it generates turbulence, which interferes with the operation ...

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

Sep 19, 2014

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

Sep 19, 2014

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

Sep 19, 2014

The typical Norwegian owner of a solar heating system is a resourceful man in his mid-fifties. He is technically skilled, interested in energy systems, and wants to save money and protect the environment.

User comments : 0