CRADAs for wind turbine blades

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory will work with consortiums from Texas and Massachusetts to design, build and operate new facilities to test the next generation of wind turbine blades.


The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory will work with consortiums from Texas and Massachusetts to design, build and operate new facilities to test the next generation of giant wind turbine blades.



The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the blade test facility cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) yesterday.



The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership and the Lone Star Wind Alliance in Texas were chosen to build facilities to test large wind turbine blades with an ultimate goal of testing blades up to 100m in length.



Blade testing is required to meet wind turbine design standards, reduce machine cost, and reduce the technical and financial risk of deploying mass-produced wind turbine models.



Rapid growth in wind turbine size over the past two decades has outstripped the existing capabilities of the NREL’s NationalWindTechnologyCenter, which operates the only facility in North America capable of full-scale testing of megawatt-size wind turbine blades.



NREL will continue testing blades at its facility in Colorado.


Transportation issues were key to deciding to build the new blade test facilities near waterways.



The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership proposes to build a test facility at the Boston Autoport in BostonHarbor in 2009. The Boston Autoport provides a quickly developable site on the East Coast featuring proximity to substantial offshore wind resources, truck access, a rail spur and a 365m dock for transporting blades from ocean going vessels.



The site proposed by the Lone Star Wind Alliance in Ingleside, Texas, has the potential to lower transportation costs. It is near primary ship routes along the GulfCoast and boasts access to developing wind energy markets in Texas and the Midwest.



The agreements will be executed by NREL on behalf of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. DOE/NREL will provide each of the test facilities up to $2m in capital equipment and technical assistance for development and operation. The total capital cost of each facility has been estimated at $9 to $12m.