In its largest single award ever; Clemson University has received a $45 million grant from the Department of Energy (and an additional $53 million in matching funds) to construct and operate a large-scale facility that will test wind energy drive train components at the research campus. This places one of the most important sites for US wind energy research and development in South Carolina.
The funds will develop a high-tech facility at the campus to test the next generation of wind turbines in the US. Now that state-of-the-art turbine sizes have increased with each new turbine, existing drive train testing facilities have become obsolete.
The five-year DOE grant will pay to help develop large-scale turbines that don’t yet exist in the United States, according to Clemson officials. The facility will be able to test advanced drive train systems for wind turbines in the 5 to 15 MW range.
A full quarter of the US population of the US lives in the nine neighboring Atlantic states from Massachusetts to North Carolina and is enthusiastic about jointly developing the off-shore wind potential down the Atlantic Seaboard. (previous story)
The new testing facility will improve US competitiveness in wind energy technology, generate up to 20,000 new green jobs and ultimately lead to lower energy prices for consumers. Once wind farms are set up, their ongoing costs are lower than fuel-fired plants, as they don’t require fuel.
South Carolina is the state of the only Senate Republican to support the Democratic legislation designed to increase US competitiveness in renewable energy. The Clean Jobs & American Power Act is currently mired in the Senate, blocked mostly by Republicans (and a few Democrats) from Southern States with oil or coal – who have blocked renewable energy legislation for decades. But GE has a wind turbine manufacturing facility in Greenville, South Carolina.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (who has taken a lot of heat from the fossil industry for breaking ranks), told The State that the grant “moves Clemson University dramatically up the research food chain.”
Providing the $53 million in matching funds are the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority; the S.C. Department of Commerce; the state of South Carolina; S.C. Public Railways, which will build the rail spur to the facility; the South Carolina State Ports Authority; and private partners RENK AG, Tony Bakker and James Meadors.
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