Stephanie Holinka, a Sandia National Laboratories’ spokesperson, said that the first phase of this project is being constructed by collaboration with Sandia’s academic and private partners.
The other collaborators involved are: Texas Tech University in Lubbock, leading wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, and Group NIRE, a renewable energy development company.
All entities signed a flexible memorandum of understanding (MoU) that allows for use of the site for mutual and proprietary research, depending on research needs. The US Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is facilitating the project’s funding.
The SWIFT concept depicts a shared emphasis aimed at economically maximizing power output while still keeping the costs at a minimum. This will be achieved at initially focusing on turbine-to-turbine interaction and high-tech rotor technologies. Other innovative technologies under investigation include aero-acoustics and structural health monitoring of turbines by utilizing embedded sensor systems.
Anurag Gupta, director of rotor systems at Vestas’ Technology R&D in Houston, stated that the SWIFT concept will create a technology accelerator that will allow the company to bring innovations to the market in a rapid, cost-effective way. Holinka says that there might be expansion of the site to include 9 or more turbines which would allow researchers to closely examine and decipher how individual wind turbines and large-scale wind farms would become improvised.
Jon White, project manager and researcher in Sandia’s Wind Energy Technologies Group, states that the site will be using V27 turbines rather than full, industrial-sized systems. The smaller utility-scale V27 turbines are to be used as research models for their easier analysis of performance, reconfiguration, repair and maintenance.
He further adds that Sandia’s SMART rotors depict innovative features like active surfaces that resemble airplane wings, and have shape changing actuators which allow for greater flexibility and control.