Field and Technology Research Validation Sites

NREL offers industry partners the opportunity to use the Flatirons Campus—including its wind turbines and meteorological towers—to develop, demonstrate, and de-risk their technology in a safe environment.

The Flatirons Campus has extensive full-scale field validation and research capabilities that have been used in collaboration with the wind industry to accelerate wind technology development and deployment for more than 30 years.

Our campus features field research pads scaling from 400 w to 4 MW, expert engineers, and specialized facilities together in one of the best meteorologically characterized research sites in the world. Because the site experiences high-turbulence winds exceeding International Electrotechnical Commission's (IEC) Class I, it is ideal for evaluating wind turbine technology under extreme-event conditions.

Cart 3 research turbine

Experimental Design and Research Validations

NREL is accredited to support the execution of high-quality field campaigns that allow for performance validation under real-world conditions. Our team helps design and conduct field experiments by:

  • Assessing research needs to assure the research question is fully understood
  • Selecting the appropriate instrumentation to meet the research needs
  • Deploying instrumentation with documentation of meta data needed for data analysis
  • Collecting data with ongoing data-quality checks and troubleshooting as needed
  • Data analysis and visualization.

Infrastructure and Hardware

Megawatt-Scale Research Wind Turbines

U.S. Department of Energy 1.5-MW Turbine

  • Model: GE 1.5-SLE
  • Tower height: 80 m
  • Rotor diameter: 77 m
  • U.S. Department of Energy owned; used for research and development
  • Commissioned in September 2009

SGRE 2.3-MW Turbine

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

SGRE 2-MW Turbine

  • Model: G97
  • Tower height: 90 m
  • Rotor diameter: 97 m
  • Gamesa owned and operated
  • Multiyear partnership agreement for R&D
  • Class III turbine commissioned in November 2011; removed and replaced with G97 Class II machine commissioned in March 2013

Controls Advanced Research Wind Turbine

CART 600-kW Turbine

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

Met Towers

  • Two 135-m and two 80-m met towers
  • 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

Data Acquisition and Results

NREL's capabilities are accredited by the A2LA to perform the following validations in accordance with international standards:

  • Acoustic noise to 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 61400-21 and MEASNET
  • Duration testing to IEC 61400-2
  • Safety and function to IEC 61400-2 and IEC 61400-22.

Partner with Us

NREL's field research validation sites include experimental laboratories, computer facilities for analytical work, tools and machine shops, office space for industry researchers, and space for assembling components and systems.

NREL offers a variety of ways for organizations to gain access to our wind technology expertise:

Learn more about working with NREL.

Learn about NREL’s other wind energy facilities.