Governor Deval Patrick today joined state and federal officials and wind industry leaders in Charlestown to celebrate the opening of the first facility in the United States capable of testing large-scale wind turbine blades up to 90 meters in length.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Wind Technology Testing Center (WTTC) will serve as a critical component in the wind energy industry, speeding deployment of the next generation of wind blades into the marketplace, attracting companies to design, manufacture and test their blades in the United States and catalyzing growth in the American wind turbine supply chain.
"To win the clean energy future, our nation and state must enthusiastically embrace the use of large-scale wind turbines in onshore and offshore wind farms," said Governor Patrick. "The Wind Technology Testing Center will help achieve that goal, by doing business with companies from around the world, and advancing the next generation of blade technology."
Approximately 300 construction and engineering jobs were created in transforming an empty parking lot into the world-class wind blade testing facility. The WTTC is already attracting global wind blade manufacturing to Massachusetts. Last fall, global wind blade manufacturer TPI Composites opened a wind blade R&D, and prototype manufacturing facility in Fall River, and is currently working on building its first prototype wind blades. TPI will be a customer of the WTTC, and has cited it as a key driver in its decision to set up shop in Massachusetts.
“New England winds have tested the wills of sailors and citizens for centuries. Now we will be taking the lead in testing and developing the wind turbines that will help power our nation in the 21st Century. This new clean energy facility will help ensure that the Bay State has a front row seat for the clean energy revolution,” said Congressman Ed Markey.
“I am pleased to be here today celebrating the opening of the Wind Technology Testing Center, which created hundreds of jobs during a difficult economy. With the work done at this facility developing the next generation of wind turbines, Massachusetts is leading the way in advancing clean energy initiatives,” said Congressman Michael Capuano.
“The Wind Technology Testing Center will not only strengthen the status of Boston and the Commonwealth as a world leader in wind development, but as a leader in clean tech innovation,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “I commend Governor Patrick and the Obama Administration for their collaborative efforts to nurture the clean tech economy. If we continue working together, I have no doubt that we can lead the way on economic and environmental gains that will make a difference at home and around the world.”
“Massachusetts has made huge strides in wind power since the Patrick-Murray administration took office – moving from an installed capacity of 3.1 megawatts to an expected 90 megawatts installed or in construction and design by the end of this year,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., who chairs the MassCEC board. “Today, we hit another significant milestone – providing the U.S. with the first facility capable of testing the next-generation utility-scale turbines."
“The Wind Technology Testing Center is more proof that Massachusetts is leading the clean energy innovation revolution,” said MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney. “Our clean energy future will require large-scale wind turbines to support wind projects both on land and offshore, and the WTTC will be at the forefront of developing those turbines.”
In June 2007, Massachusetts won a competitive $2 million federal NREL grant, plus in-kind technical and operating assistance, to help outfit and run a new wind blade testing center. In May 2009, the WTTC was awarded $24.7 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to accelerate development of the WTTC. MassCEC provided $13.2 million in grants and loans for design and initial development expenses for the project, which will be the first commercial large blade test facility in the nation, testing commercial-sized wind turbine blades to help reduce cost, improving technical advancements and expediting the deployment of the next generation of wind turbine blades into the marketplace.
MassCEC, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC,) broke ground on the WTTC in Charlestown in October 2009. The WTTC is uniquely positioned on an existing deep water port and near interstate highways, close to numerous world-class clean energy research and academic centers in the Boston area. The blades will be shipped to the facility primarily by water, with shorter blades shipped by road, if required.
The WTTC will provide three test stands (providing ability to test three blades simultaneously), 100 tons of overhead bridge crane capacity and a full suite of certification tests for turbine blades up to 90 meters in length, including static and fatigue testing, blade material testing, dual axis static or fatigue testing, and quality testing. In addition as part of its effort to help the wind industry deploy the next generation of onshore and offshore wind turbine technologies, the WTTC will offer the latest wind turbine blade testing and prototype development methodologies, research and development partnerships, blade repair capabilities and hands-on workforce training. The facility will be able to test three blades at a time.
As part of an effort to be a first adopter of clean energy technologies produced by Massachusetts clean energy companies, MassCEC selected an intelligent lighting system from Boston-based Digital Lumens to light the WTTC. The system was chosen based on several factors including using 66 percent less energy than traditional lighting alternatives, the ability to provide required light levels from the 80-foot ceiling heights of the facility, an integrated networking and intelligence system that will help maximize energy savings, and the elimination of maintenance and re-lamping associated with other lighting sources.
“Clipper Windpower is delighted to be the first company to utilize the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s new WTTC. In the past, the wind energy industry has relied upon European blade test laboratories to qualify new blade designs. As a U.S. company, the ability to conduct ultimate strength and fatigue durability tests on the world’s largest, next-generation size rotor blades right here in America will accelerate our ability to finalize designs and get our products to market,” said Clipper Wind Senior Vice President of Engineering Craig Christenson. “With a state-of-the-art, world-class blade test center, America has strengthened its capability to compete in the global wind energy sector. Investments like the WTTC support our nation’s green energy future and bring us closer to having what it takes to compete as a world leader in the global energy sector, a market forecast to exceed $96 billion and deliver 1.92% of the world’s electricity in 2011.”
“This project created thousands of hours of work for Local 7 Ironworker members during difficult economic times,” said Local 7 Ironworker Business Agent Paul Lynch. “All phases of this project were a unique opportunity for our team, and I’m proud to see this outstanding facility come to fruition. My hat goes off to all the Ironworkers who worked on this project, as well as the Patrick-Murray Administration, Mayor Menino, Turner Construction Company, and Local 7 Ironworker contractors Francis Harvey & Sons, Daniel Marr & Sons and Ipswich Bay Glass Co. Inc.”
Earlier this month, Governor Patrick traveled to the Berkshires to cut the ribbon on the new ten-turbine Berkshire Wind Project, the state’s first utility scale onshore wind farm, with the capacity to generate enough renewable electricity to power approximately 6,000 homes in the region. This Spring, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar traveled to Massachusetts to green light the construction plan for Cape Wind, which will be the nation's first offshore wind farm. 10 developers have recently expressed interest in additional offshore wind developments in the federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard.