New research turbine is commissioned


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Siemens Energy Inc. have formally commissioned a new 2.3 megawatt Siemens wind turbine at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center.

The turbine is the centerpiece of a multiyear project to study the performance and aerodynamics of a new class of large, land-based machines — in what will be the biggest government-industry research partnership for wind power generation ever undertaken in the U.S.

The agreement

Under their Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, Siemens and NREL will test basic turbine characteristics and verify new performance enhancing features of the pilot turbine over a minimum of three years — and potentially longer.

Testing will include a full range of real-world operating conditions, including severe weather.

Under the initial phase of the $14 million research program, Siemens will contribute $9 million, NREL $5 million.

The Siemens 2.3 MW turbine is among the largest land-based turbines deployed in the United States and is the largest at the NWTC site. Planned testing includes structural and performance testing; modal, acoustics and power quality testing; as well as aerodynamic testing and turbine performance enhancements.

NREL researchers also are interested in the foundations required beneath the ground to support larger wind turbines.

Related agreement

NREL and Renewable Energy Systems Americas (RES) have entered into a separate but coordinated agreement to study the design and performance of turbine foundations, with goals of increasing the reliability of non-turbine components and reducing turbine installation costs.

A new meteorological tower to the west of the Siemens turbine will feature more than 60 instruments to collect the most advanced data available on wind, temperature, dew point, precipitation and other weather features that can influence the performance and lifespan of a wind turbine.

The new turbine and other new projects under way at the NWTC also allow NREL to take a significant step forward in generating its own clean electricity to accomplish the laboratory’s aggressive sustainability goals — including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time meeting the energy needs of NREL’s expanding campus.

DOE and Xcel Energy are negotiating an agreement for surplus energy to be exported and sold to the local utility grid.

Installation of the pilot turbine at the National Wind Technology Center follows Siemens’ decision to locate its own wind power research and development center in nearby Boulder. That office is expected to grow to 40 engineers and other staff by 2013.

Learn more

Further information is available at

Get our Top Stories in Your Inbox

Next step: Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.