At Clemson University, an old shipyard has been turned into the world’s largest wind energy testing centre. Renk Test System (RTS), a German company, has provided a facility containing the world’s most powerful wind-turbine tests rigs, which permit simulation of any type of wind force.
As wind energy rapidly develops worldwide, the US government plans to expand the country’s production from 35 to over 300 gigawatts, equivalent to 270 medium-sized nuclear power plants. The new testing centre at Clemson University in South Carolina plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. For the first time, it will test wind turbine prototypes of up to 15 megawatts (MW) with every type of wind force, including hurricanes. The fact that today’s average wind turbines generates 3-7 MW indicates the power of the testing facility.
“You don’t need to wait for the storm of the century,” says Jens Schneider, Project Manager at RTS in Augsburg, Germany. “The rigs simulate the most extreme conditions in a matter of months and manufacturers save hundreds of millions of dollars by detecting weak points before deploying new systems. The savings in time and money are one reason why interest in our testing systems has skyrocketed recently.”
RTS was commissioned to build two test stands when the Clemson project started a couple of years ago. The company, a subsidiary of RENK AG, has developed and manufactured high-end testing facilities for gears, drive components and complete vehicles since the 1960s.