The SWiFT facility is a major collaborative research initiative involving Texas Tech University, the National Wind Institute and partners from the Department of Energy (DOE), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Vestas, and Group NIRE.
Research focuses on the investigation of turbine-to-turbine interaction and innovative rotor technologies, as well as aero-acoustics and structural health monitoring of turbines using embedded sensor systems.
As more and more wind farms are built, researchers are learning that significant amounts of wind energy is lost due to turbine-to-turbine interaction and wake inefficiency. (Think of how geese will fly in a V-formation to get less drag. Setting up a wind farm needs to find ways to reduce the wake "drag", so to speak, from one row of turbines to the row behind.) Additionally, this uneven turbine loading not only leads to under-performance for the wind farm as a whole, but the uneven wind loads also contribute to the actual wind turbines wearing out faster.
The site hosts three 300-kilowatt V27 turbines, two deployed by Sandia National Laboratories, and the third belonging to Vestas. The upgraded V27 turbines are smaller research-scale turbines that retain the significant characteristics of larger utility-scale wind turbines, allowing for more timely and cost-effective research. The three turbines all stream data to a centrol control center to allow for effective and efficient data anaylsis.
The wind energy test facility is located at Reese Technology Center. The SWiFT project was formally commissioned in summer 2013.
(Above) - Partially assembled V27 research turbine at the DOE/SNL SWiFT facility.Click image to enlarge.