Naperville, Ill., May 23, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory awarded a $1.37 million contract for the design and fabrication of a 5.8 MW wind turbine gearbox for a new dynamometer at its National Wind Technology Center to Brad Foote Gear Works, Inc., a unit of Broadwind Energy, Inc.
As the primary U.S. wind energy R&D facility, the NWTC provides the wind industry with customized turbine and component testing. The planned 5 MW dynamometer upgrade at the NWTC will enhance the research and operational capabilities of the U.S. wind power industry.
Dynamometers enable industry and testing agencies to verify the performance and reliability of wind turbine drivetrain prototypes and commercial machines. Designs are tested by simulating field conditions in a laboratory environment.
In a typical dynamometer test, a powerful motor replaces the rotor and blades of a wind turbine. Wind turbine dynamometer testing focuses on the electrical power producing systems of a wind turbine including generators, gearboxes, power converters, bearings, brakes, lubrication, cooling and control systems.
The schedule calls for delivery of the gearbox to the NWTC in the fall of 2011. This subcontract is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Development and construction of the upgraded 5 MW (nominal) dynamometer facility at the NWTC is a multi-year project that began in fiscal year 2009, with a scheduled completion in the spring of 2012.