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With officials on hand from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Sandia National Laboratories, Vestas and Group NIRE, Texas Tech University (TTU) opened the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) research facility.

According to TTU, the research center allows for the cost-efficient testing and development of wind energy technology, with a specific emphasis on improving wind plant performance. The facility’s advanced testing and monitoring will help researchers evaluate how larger wind farms can become more productive. TTU researchers cite industry estimates that show how 10% to 40% of wind energy production is lost due to complex wind plant interaction.

The Lubbock, Texas-based site occupies 19 acres of a 67-acre plot that TTU leases from the Reese Technology Center, a technology, research, engineering and education campus.

The research center includes two Vestas V27 research turbines deployed by the DOE and Sandia, and a third V27 turbine belonging to Vestas. Additionally, SWiFT features a 200-meter met tower, a wind tunnel, a tornado simulator as well as classrooms and lecture facilities. 

The SWiFT research center could eventually expand to include nine or more wind turbines, which would allow researchers to further examine how individual turbines and entire wind farms can become better "citizens of the grid," notes TTU.

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