The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Clemson University have signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) to help the wind energy industry improve the performance of wind turbine drivetrains and better understand how the turbines can integrate more effectively with the electrical grid.
According to NREL, the CRADA will include the exchange of staff for training and research and development purposes, including collaborative participation in facility commissioning and testing activities.
NREL, with support from the wind program in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is developing custom facilities and capabilities to enable testing of full-scale integrated wind turbine drivetrain systems in accordance with the needs of the wind industry. NREL currently operates 2.5 MW and 5 MW dynamometers and a controllable grid interface.
Supported by a $45.6 million DOE investment that is cost matched with over $70 million in funds, Clemson University currently operates a drivetrain testing facility with 7.5 MW and 15 MW dynamometers at its SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, as well as a 20 MVA grid emulator, the Duke Energy eGrid, which enables mechanical and electrical testing of wind turbines and other multi-megawatt devices bound for the electrical grid.
According to Clemson, the projects spurred the development of the $21 million Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, which will house the university's graduate programs in the Charleston, S.C., area and is located adjacent to the test facilities. NREL and Clemson are installing hardware-in-the-loop modeling and control capabilities to enhance testing facilities.