Clemson University has dedicated the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, a globally unique energy systems research and testing facility, in a ceremony attended by an international audience of more than 1,000 people, among which were elected representatives, industry executives and U.S. Department of Energy officials, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman.
The $98 million testing facility was funded by a $45 million grant, awarded in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy to build and operate a facility to accelerate the development of next generation technologies for the wind energy market in an effort to bring down energy costs. The grant was matched by $53 million in public and private funds. South Carolina Electric& Gas Co. awarded $3.5 million to the facility previously known as the Wind Turbine Drivetrain testing Facility, while Duke Energy contributed $5 million for laboratory infrastructure and educational program development.
The 82,000-square-foot facility houses the most advanced wind turbine drivetrain testing facility in the world which has the ability for full-scale testing of the wind turbine drivetrains – the system that harvests the energy generated by a wind turbine’s blade to drive the electrical generator. Beside the 15-megawatt testing rig, the center also houses a 7.5-megawatt rig, as well as the 15-megawatt Duke Energy Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development center (eGRID), a system capable of simulating the electrical grid of any country in the world. The eGrid’s $10.1 million funding was provided by a Department of Energy EERE grant, matching
South Carolina state funds, utility companies and certifying bodies. Two student laboratories were also developed for future electrical-related research.
The SCE&G center, located at the Clemson University Restoration Institute campus in North Charleston, will provide highly versatile space for public-private partnerships, pairing Clemson University personnel, students and partner companies from the energy industry.
Savannah River National Laboratory and Germany-based FEV Inc. will both set up research centers at Clemson’s facility, while General Electric’s GE Power and Wind subsidiary has been confirmed as the first company to use one of the testing rigs.
The SCE&G Energy Innovation Center is expected to become a significant economic development booster of greater Charleston area.
Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy via Wikimedia Commons and Clemson University via Facebook