The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will dedicate its new Dynamometer Test Facility at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) on November 19. The new facility offers industry engineers the opportunity to conduct a wide range of tests on the mechanical and electrical power producing systems of a wind turbine.
As one of the largest dynamometers in the world, the new facility at NREL will test wind turbine drivetrains with capacity ratings up to 5 MW. The facility uses a hydraulic device that simulates the rotation and bending that a wind turbine rotor places on a drivetrain. Only a handful of test facilities in the world have this dual capability; drivetrain testing under a rotation load only is the current standard for the industry.
NREL’s 5 MW dynamometer is also connected to a controllable grid interface, which can simulate the power grid and help system engineers better understand how wind turbines react to grid disturbances. Dynamometers enable industry and testing agencies to verify the performance and reliability of wind turbine drivetrain prototypes and commercial machines before they are deployed in the field, reducing maintenance or replacement costs along with the risk of possible failures. The drivetrains are tested by simulating operating field conditions in a laboratory environment.
The new Dynamometer Test Facility was funded by a grant from the Energy Department and the American Recovery and Investment Act (ARRA).