As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy that develops every available source of American energy, the Department of Energy and Vestas Wind Systems joined with Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University to break ground on a new state-of-the-art wind turbine test facility in Lubbock. The Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility is the first public facility of its kind in the world to use multiple wind turbines to measure how wind turbine wakes interact with one another in a wind farm.
The SWiFT facility has advanced testing and monitoring capabilities, as well as space for up to 10 wind turbines, allowing researchers to examine how larger wind farms can become more productive and collaborative. The facility, which will host both open-source and proprietary research, is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, the Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, Group NIRE and global wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems. The facility will address the importance of increasing the performance of current wind farms to reduce the cost of wind power. In addition, one of the SWiFT facility’s objectives is to reduce power losses and damage caused by turbine to turbine interaction, enhance energy capture and damage-mitigation potential of advanced rotors and improve the validity of aerodynamic, aero-elastic and aero-acoustic simulations used to develop innovative technologies.
Additional partners included Economic Development organizations from the Panhandle/West Texas area like Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development (SEED). “We became part of the advisory council several years ago as we assisted in the establishment of the center. What better location for a Wind Research and Development Center than in the West Texas/Pan Handle region,” stated Ken Becker, SEED Executive Director.
If Texas was a country, it would be the sixth largest in terms of developed Mega Watts of wind (12,214 MW). Nolan County has 1,371 turbines that develop 2060 MW with an additional 2,000 MW in the surrounding counties. This West Texas region would rank in the top 12 countries for developed wind power (based on 2012 numbers).