South Carolina’s Clemson University, like other top tier educational institutions around the country, is busy with a number of green technology initiatives. First it was a prototype electric vehicle called Deep Orange that is expected to achieve the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon of gas. Now we have word of the groundbreaking of what will be the world’s largest wind-turbine drive-train testing facility.
The Clemson wind turbine testing facility, being built at the cost of $98 million, is expected to begin operating in 2012. It will be housed in a former Navy warehouse adjacent to existing rail and ship-handling infrastructure and will, according to the university, “be capable of full-scale highly accelerated testing of advanced drive-train systems for wind turbines in the 5 megawatt to 15 megawatt range with a 30 percent overload capacity. A drive train takes energy generated by a turbine’s blades and increases the rotational speed to drive the electrical generator, similar to the transmission in a car.”
Funding for the project comes from a variety of sources, including a $45 million U.S. Department of Energy grant from the Recovery Act and $53 million of matching funds. The university’s partners in the project include the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority; the S.C. Department of Commerce; the state of South Carolina; South Carolina Public Railways, the S.C. State Ports Authority; and private partners RENK AG, Tony Bakker and James Meadors.
South Carolina reportedly has a burgeoning wind-energy industry, and the state sees projects like the Clemson one as positioning itself “to serve as an industrial hub for this evolving industry.”
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