A large wind turbine blade testing facility in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in Boston could stimulate the local economy and boost the wind energy industry in the U.S. by reducing costs and attracting companies to design, develop and manufacture wind turbine blades domestically. As reported by Offshore Wind, prior to receiving a $24.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy the testing facility was planning to scale back due to lack of funding, but now a 50,000 square foot facility will open in early 2011. The facility will have the capacity to test blades up to 300 feet long.
The Boston facility will help bring down costs for U.S. wind turbine manufacturers because until now Europe and Brazil have been the only places with facilities large enough to perform the testing of long blades. Bigger blades generate more electricity. According to Offshore Wind, most blades in the U.S. are now about 200 feet long, but most offshore wind farms in Europe and other parts of the world use 300 foot or longer blades. But before they are installed, these blades need to be tested.
The Wind Technology Testing Center will be managed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The center will have three test stands that provide a complete set of tests for blades up to 90 meters long, including strength and resonance testing, endurance or fatigue testing, blade material and quality testing, certification tests for new blade designs, and reliability testing for existing designs. The center will also develop research and development partnerships, and hands-on training including repair capabilities.
In the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Empowers website, Rahul Yarala, executive director of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, is quoted as indicating that the project is expected to create up to 300 construction jobs, about 30 design jobs, and eight administrative positions when complete. The testing facility will also promote the growth of the supply chain for wind turbine production, such as fiberglass and composite materials manufacturers and distributors.
In an article on the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs website, state and local officials expressed that the wind turbine testing center will be a tremendous boost to the clean energy sector in Massachusetts. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu indicates that the testing facility will help the U.S. regain its competitive edge in the wind turbine industry. Senator John Kerry stated that the facility will not only create new jobs but also ensure that Massachusetts remains a leader in clean energy technology.
DOE/NREL/MASSCEC Develop New Blade Test Facility – National Renewable Energy Laboratory
State and Federal Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking of Wind Blade Test Center – Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
New Facility in Boston to Test Large Wind Turbine Blades (USA) – Offshore Wind
Wind Technology Testing Center – Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
VP100: New facility in Boston to test large-scale wind blades – Energy Empowers