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Field Test Sites

The National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) field-test research site offers six wind turbines and four fully instrumented meteorological (met) towers that can support up to 32 possible field-test sites and 12 data sheds.

Photo of a man repelling down the front of a large wind turbine.

Many industry partners choose to work with the NWTC because of the ability to test full-scale wind turbines under extreme conditions, including hurricane-force winds.

Features

  • Turbine control systems
  • Electrical distribution systems
  • Telecommunications systems
  • Variable-frequency drives
  • Video monitoring
  • Cooling systems
  • Elevators
  • Uninstrumented met towers
  • Parts and specialized tool storage

Capabilities

  • Study component controls, including new advanced actuators and sensors
  • Look-ahead capability that can provide "feedforward control"
  • High-bandwidth, independent pitch control of the Controls Advanced Research Turbine (CART) blades
  • Variable-speed or constant-speed operation
  • Address such issues as wind power plant underperformance and premature turbine component failure
  • Data acquisition systems, instrumentation, and calibration
  • Data analysis and systems and tools processing

Megawatt-Scale Research Turbines

U.S. Department of Energy 1.5-MW Turbine

  • Model: GE 1.5-SLE
  • Tower height: 80 meter (m)
  • Rotor diameter: 77 m
  • U.S. Department of Energy-owned; to be used for research and education
  • Turbine commissioned in September 2009

Siemens 2.3-MW Turbine

  • Model: SWT-2.3-108
  • Tower height: 80 m
  • Rotor diameter: 108 m
  • Siemens owned and operated
  • Multiyear cost-shared research and development (R&D) cooperative research and development agreement for aerodynamics and rotor performance
  • 101-m turbine commissioned in October 2009; rotor change to 108 m in November 2013

GE 3-MW Turbine

  • Model: ECO 110
  • Tower height: 90 m
  • Rotor diameter: 110 m
  • GE (formerly Alstom) owned and operated
  • Multiyear funds-in-agreement for testing and R&D
  • 100-m turbine commissioned in April 2011; rotor changed to 110 m in February 2013

Gamesa 2-MW Turbine

  • Model: G97
  • Tower height: 90 m
  • Rotor diameter: 97 m
  • Gamesa owned and operated
  • Multiyear funds-in-agreement for testing and R&D
  • Class III turbine commissioned in November 2011; removed and replaced with G97 Class II machine and commissioned in March 2013
A photo of two land-based megawatt-scale wind turbines with the ocean in the background under cloudy skies.

CARTs

CART2 600-kW Turbine

  • Model: Westinghouse
  • Blades: 2
  • Hub height: 36.6 m
  • Rotor diameter: 42.6 m
  • Extensively instrumented

CART3 600-kW Turbine

  • Model: Westinghouse
  • Blades: 3
  • Hub height: 36.6 m
  • Rotor diameter: 42.6 m
  • Extensively instrumented

See the CART fact sheet.

An aerial photo of two wind turbines and a meteorological tower against green landscape at the National Wind Technology Center.

Met Towers

  • One 135-m and one 80-m met tower
  • Research-grade inflow measurements at multiple heights
  • Reference for ground-based lidar and sodar comparison
  • Characterize atmospheric conditions that affect turbine responses; support atmospheric science R&D
  • Record the wind speed (sonic and cup anemometers), direction, temperature, humidity, and pressure used to derive wind shear, turbulence, air density, and stability.
A photo of three wind turbines and a meteorological tower.

Accreditations

The NWTC is accredited to perform the following tests in accordance with international standards:

  • Acoustic noise to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61400-11 and Measuring Network of Wind Energy Institutes (MEASNET)
  • Power performance to IEC 61400-12-1 and MEASNET
  • Mechanical loads to IEC 61400-13
  • Power quality to IEC 61400-21and MEASNET
  • Duration testing to IEC 61400-2
  • Safety and function to IEC 61400-2 and IEC 61400-22.

Small- and Mid-Sized Turbines Field-Tested at the NWTC

Small- and mid-sized wind turbine brands tested at the NWTC have included:

  • Abundant Renewable Energy
  • Atlantic Orient Corporation
  • Bergey Windpower
  • Endurance Wind Power Inc.
  • Entegrity Wind Systems Inc.
  • Gaia-Wind Ltd.
  • Mariah Resources Inc.
  • Southwest Windpower
  • Pika Energy
  • Xzeres Wind
  • Northern Power Systems.

Multimegawatt Turbines Field-Tested at the NWTC

The following multimegawatt wind turbine brands and models are undergoing long-term field testing at the NWTC:

  • GE (ECO110—Alstom Legacy, 3 MW)
  • Gamesa (G97, 2 MW)
  • GE (GE 1.5 SLE, 1.5 MW)
  • Siemens (2.3 MW).

See the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's fact sheet on field-testing research at the NWTC.