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Harnessing the wind: Chamber members tour turbine testing lab

  • Friday, June 13, 2014

From the second floor of the facility, the tour group gets an up-close look at some of the Institute’s testing equipment.

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Dorchester County business leaders, on Wednesday, were treated to an up-close look at some of the most unique wind turbine testing equipment ever made.

For its sixth Monthly Morning Power Hour, the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce sponsored a tour of the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility located at the Clemson University Restoration Institute at the old Navy Base in North Charleston.

The Institute, working with the Department of Energy, designed and constructed the state-of-the-art wind turbine testing facility in an effort to help meet the needs of the developing wind-generated power industry. As that industry has grown, companies have begun designing larger, more advanced wind turbines. The Clemson Restoration Institute now provides a place where large turbines and related equipment can be thoroughly tested.

Jim Tuten, project manager for the facility, talked to those in attendance about the importance of alternative power sources and gave an overview of the facility that included its origins and what lies ahead.

“We offer the next generation of testing services,” he said. “These services can be expensive and hard to offer because equipment needs to be tested in specific weather. We can dial up whatever weather they need.”

The Institute helps reduce testing costs by using the university’s resources and partnering with local business interested in helping America keep up with other parts of the world in terms of using alternative power sources.

The institute also has a state-of-the-art Electrical Grid Simulator that, among other things, is being used to find ways to incorporate wind-generated power into existing power distribution systems.

“We want to find ways to update electric grids that have been around a while,” Tuten said. “We want to make them less vulnerable, more secure and safe.”

He told the group the facility can offer services that can help with all types of power-related innovations. It can also be used for testing and research related to the solar energy, electrical vehicle charging and the aerospace industries.

Tuten added that when a company uses the Institute’s facility, resources and equipment, the intellectual property of the project belongs to the company rather than the Institute.

The facility was built with the aid of a $45 million grant, but Tuten said it is “self sufficient” and not a government lab.

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