The Department of Energy recently joined with Texas Tech University and Sandia National Laboratories to break ground on a new state-of-the-art wind turbine test facility in Lubbock, Texas. The Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWIFT) facility will be the first public facility of its kind in the world to use multiple wind turbines to measure how wind turbine wakes interact with one another in a wind farm. Scheduled to begin operation later this year, the facility will help wind turbine designers and manufacturers continue to drive down the cost of wind energy by reducing the aerodynamic losses of wind energy plants, enhancing energy capture, and mitigating turbine damage.
Along with the ability to monitor wind plant performance, the SWIFT facility will have additional advanced testing and monitoring capabilities, as well as space for up to 10 wind turbines, allowing researchers to examine how larger wind farms can become more productive and collaborative. The facility, which will host both open-source and proprietary research, is the result of a partnership between the DOE's Sandia National Laboratories, the Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, Group NIRE, and global wind market leader Vestas. The site will initially be equipped with two research-scale wind turbines provided by the Department of Energy and a third installed by Vestas Technology R&D in Houston.
Supported by a $2.6 million investment from the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), this facility supports domestically manufactured wind turbines and turbine components. In addition to the SWIFT facility's turbine-to-turbine testing, the Energy Department has also contributed funding for several additional facilities, including the Wind Technology Testing Center in Massachusetts; the Clemson University Drivetrain Test Facility; and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's National Wind Technology Center.