Sandia LabNews

SWiFT — the DOE/Sandia Scaled Wind Farm Technology facility commissioned in Lubbock, Texas


DOE, Sandia, and Texas Tech University hosted the commissioning of the DOE/Sandia Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility on Tuesday, July 9, at the Reese Technology Center in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by Lloyd Wilson)

DOE, Sandia, and Texas Tech University hosted the commissioning of the DOE/Sandia Scaled Wind Farm Technology  (SWiFT) facility on Tuesday, July 9, at the Reese Technology Center in Lubbock, Texas.

The event featured speakers from DOE’s Wind Program, Vestas Wind Systems, Sandia, and Texas Tech University.

Speakers discussed the importance of increasing performance to reduce the cost of wind power. In addition, speakers addressed the SWiFT facility’s objectives of reducing power losses and damage caused by turbine-turbine interaction, enhancing energy capture and damage-mitigation potential of advanced rotors, and improving the validity of aerodynamic, aero-elastic, and aero-acoustic simulations used to develop innovative technologies.

The SWiFT is the first public facility of its kind to use multiple wind turbines to measure how wind turbines interact with one another in a wind farm.

In a news release announcing the commissioning of the new facility, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson said, “The Energy Department’s wind testing facilities, including the Scaled Wind Farm Technology site in Texas, support the continued growth of our nation’s clean energy economy while helping to speed the deployment of next generation energy technologies and bring more clean, affordable, renewable power to American homes and businesses.”

Jon White of Wind Energy Technologies Dept. 6121, technical lead for the project, says this is the first moderate-scale facility — allowing up to 10 wind turbines — specifically designed for the investigation, testing, and development of technology for wind plants.

“Some estimates show that 10 to 40 percent of wind energy production and revenue is lost due to complex wind plant interaction,” he says.

 Jon says the three-year process of bringing SWiFT online has been rewarding and challenging.

“It has been a phenomenal experience to work with a diverse team to complete the often underappreciated process of turbine construction. We also had a 1980s-era, smaller turbine rebuilt to perform analogously to a much larger machine,” Jon says

The project was designed and built from the ground up.

“The project was a complete green-field construction so there was tremendous complexity in scheduling and managing all of the agreements and contracts to ensure access to the facility, verify there wouldn’t be an adverse environmental impact, procure the equipment, and contract numerous specialized labor resources. We succeeded primarily because we have a dedicated and competent team and a steadfast DOE customer,” Jon says.

Researchers have begun planning the site’s first research projects.

Jon says the two primary research projects for the next year will be testing and evaluating Sandia’s new National Rotor Testbed Project and collecting baseline data for turbine-turbine interaction that can be used by the international community to improve wind plant performance.

The National Rotor Testbed Project will provide a public, open-source complete rotor design that the wind energy community can work on collaboratively to bring the best technology to market as rapidly and cost-efficiently as possible, Jon says.

SWiFT will host both open-source and proprietary research as the result of a partnership among Sandia, Vestas, Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute at Reese Technology Center, and Group NIRE, a renewable energy development company.

Funding for the work comes from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

For more information on SWiFT, see previous news releases or visit the SWiFT website.