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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have dedicated a new 5 MW Dynamometer Test Facility at NREL's National Wind Technology Center.

According to the DOE, the $20 million facility enables NREL to work closely with industry engineers to enhance the drivetrains and other electrical systems in the country's largest land-based wind turbines.

In a typical dynamometer test, the DOE explains, a powerful motor replaces the rotor and blades of a wind turbine. The testing focuses on the mechanical and electrical power-producing systems of a wind turbine, including gearboxes, power converters, bearings and control systems. NREL’s new facility uses a hydraulic device that simulates the rotation and bending that a wind turbine rotor places on a drivetrain.

The 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.

“With record growth over the last decade, as they look to the future, wind developers will be installing larger turbines, including off our nation’s shores, to deliver more clean, reliable electricity to U.S. consumers,” says DOE Wind & Water Technologies Office Director Jose Zayas.

“Facilities like the National Wind Technology Center’s new dynamometer will be instrumental in evaluating new technologies, helping to ensure reliability and reduce both risk and cost for the wind turbines of tomorrow.”

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