The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) joined with Texas Tech University (TTU) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) in July 2012 to break ground on a new state-of-the-art wind turbine test facility in Lubbock, Texas. Supported by a $2.6 million investment from the Department's Wind Program, the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWIFT) facility will be the nation's first public facility to use multiple wind turbines to measure how wind turbine wakes interact with one another in a wind farm. Scheduled to begin operation later this year, the facility will help wind turbine designers and manufacturers continue to drive down the cost of wind energy by reducing the aerodynamic losses of wind energy plants, enhancing energy capture, and mitigating turbine damage.
Along with the ability to monitor wind plant performance, the SWIFT facility will have additional advanced testing and monitoring capabilities, as well as space for up to 10 wind turbines, allowing researchers to examine how larger wind farms can become more productive and collaborative. The facility, which will host both open-source and proprietary research, is the result of a partnership between SNL, TTU Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, Group NIRE, and wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. The site will initially be equipped with two research-scale wind turbines provided by DOE and a third installed by Vestas Technology R&D of Houston.