Federal and state officials celebrated the ground breaking of Massachusetts' Wind Technology Testing Center (WTTC), which will become the U.S.' first facility capable of testing blades up to 90 meters long.
The WTTC, operated in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will test commercial wind turbine blades to increase reliability, reduce cost, improve technical advancements and speed the deployment of the next generation of wind turbine blades into the marketplace. It will be the first commercial blade test facility in the U.S. to allow testing of blades longer than 50 meters, which currently can be done in Europe, but not in the U.S.
Experts anticipate that research and development into longer blades will be a catalyst for the creation of large-scale offshore wind power facilities in the U.S. The facility will also spur innovation by attracting companies to design, manufacture and test their blades in the U.S., and will aid in the growth of U.S. companies that are part of the supply chain for wind turbine production – including fiberglass distributors, advanced composite materials manufacturers.
Massachusetts was selected for the WTTC in 2007 by the Department of Energy (DOE), at which time the DOE committed $2 million in technology and staff to support, certify and launch the facility. The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust also committed $13.2 million to the project, including a $7 million grant for design and initial development expenses, a $5 million loan for working capital and a $1.2 million loan for first-year operating expenses. This May, the DOE awarded a $25 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to complete the project financing.
‘This test blade facility will help the United States regain our competitive edge by making sure the best, most efficient wind turbines can be made in America,’ says U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. ‘This investment will create good green jobs and grow our economy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.’
The WTTC is expected to be complete by the end of 2010.