New GE Power Conversion next generation wind turbine testing facility to open in UK

The state-of-the-art facility has been specifically designed for full-scale testing of large nacelles.

GE's Power Conversion says its facility will allow developers to work on building the next generation of wind turbines with higher efficiency, reliability and cost-effectiveness. This wind turbine test platform is being built at the National Renewable Energy Centre (NAREC). It is designed to allow manufacturers to speed up the development time of their systems.

In order to achieve this, a tailor-made, 35-meter-high, 3,000-sq.-meter facility to house the test rig was constructed on designs allowing it to be capable of handling the performance, endurance and compressed life testing of complete nacelles (the unit at the top of the tower housing the electricity generation system). The installation that GE has designed and will commission is comprised of the direct-drive, permanent magnet motor, which will run at up to 30 rpm and with a maximum force of 14.3mn NM (Newton Meter), resulting in a power of over 20,000 hp, which is equivalent to the driving power of 150 passenger cars. GE said it is responsible for the turnkey package for the test facility from the grid supply to the motor shaft, including a heavy-duty, medium-voltage drive system and comprehensive automation and visualization equipment, as well as overlooking the overall installation with the wind load simulator. The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investing £25mn in the NAREC facility, through the design, development and commissioning of the test rig by GE Power Conversion and MTS Systems Corporation.

It is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies and the U.K. government to bring together engineering projects that accelerate the development of affordable, secure and sustainable technologies, said GE. "We are well on the way to completing the installation and will train technical personnel very shortly,” said Franz Hubl, global business leader of test systems at GE Power Conversion. NAREC has invested more than £125mn of UK government, private sector and European Union funding to create an integrated portfolio of testing and research facilities for renewable energy, operated on an open-access commercial basis in Blyth, Northumberland, England. The NAREC test facility is the largest independent open-access facility for the testing of wind turbine drive trains in the world, said GE.