The world’s largest wind turbine drivetrain testing facility and smart grid simulator just officially launched at The Energy Systems Innovation Center in Charleston, South Carolina on November 21st. The facility will test the huge drivetrains used in offshore wind farms, while the “grid simulator,” built in a former U.S. Navy warehouse, will be used to assess the impact of wind turbines on the electric grid.

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South Carolina’s Clemson University was granted a $45 million grant in 2009 to build and operate a facility capable of testing next-generation wind turbine technology. The grant is the largest ever awarded by the Department of Energy, and the university also received investments from GE Energy, Shell, SCE&G, and Duke Energy. The university dedicated the 82,000-square-foot building to a program that will help forge public-private partnerships, support the development of offshore wind industry and educate the future workforce. The facility’s 15 MW test rigs weigh more than a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet filled with fuel, passengers and luggage.

Manufacturers of offshore wind turbines will enlist Clemson’s Restoration Institute to test their equipment before installing it. The grid simulator, named the Duke Energy eGRID, will test large-scale electrical equipment in “real-world” conditions such as power outages, voltage drops and physical attacks, without the danger of harming the grid.

+ Clemson University SCE&G Energy Innovation Center