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May 072012

SWIFT's initial three turbines are sited to allow for collaborative and individual research. (Illustration by Chris Brigman)

From Green Right Now Reports

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

Sandia said it worked with Vestas to develop the “SWIFT” concept — a 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 project is being funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“The Lubbock site benefits from high wind resource and low turbulence, which is ideal for research,” Jon White, project manager and researcher in Sandia’s Wind Energy Technologies group, said in a statement. “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 emphasis among the partners to lower 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,” Anurag Gupta, director of rotor systems at Vestas’ Technology R&D in Houston, said in a statement.

The site will use V27 turbines, which are smaller than full, industrial-sized turbines. 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.

The companies said they hope 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 Wind 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.