NREL’s (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) near Boulder, Colorado is now home to a new 3 megwatt turbine of absolutely massive proportions. The turbine’s blades alone are reported to be longer than a basketball court and the tower longer than a football field.
NREL says that, at its base, the 300 foot tower is about 14 feet in diameter. With one of its 11 ton, 160 foot long blades in the 12′ o’clock position, the turbine’s total height reaches upwards of 400 feet from the ground. All told, the entire turbine weighs in around 600 tons.
The “Eco 100” turbine is made by French power-generation company Alstom and is set to be tested as part of an extended agreement between it and NREL. The tests, which include measuring power performance, power quality, noise, and system frequency, are meant to generate data that will benefit both NREL and Alstom but, in the short term, are intended to get the turbine certified for use in the U.S. NREL says that ongoing tests will also help “create a sophisticated engineering simulation model of the Eco-100 drive train.”
NREL will also be measuring inflow conditions from a large meteorological tower at its National Wind Technology Center. Those measurements could be used as part of another study being conducted at the NWTC that relates to the effect of turbulence created by wind turbines. Also NREL reports that, later this spring, it intends to measure turbine noise by placing a microphone on a soundboard downwind of the turbine.
Turbine manufacturer and project sponsor, Alstom, is apparently building a manufacturing plant for the ECO 100’s nacelles in Amarillo, Texas. The plant is expected to open sometime this fall and, when it does, it will create and maintain 275 jobs.