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05/19/2009 07:12 AM     print story email story  

DOE Gives $25M For Massachusetts Wind Technology Testing Center News

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced $25 million in Department of Energy (DOE) funding for a Wind Technology Testing Center in the New England state.

The new center will test commercial-sized wind turbine blades to help reduce cost, improve technical advancements and speed deployment of the next generation of wind turbine blades into the marketplace. The announcement was made at the Autoport in Charlestown, the eventual site of testing center.

“As the world moves toward a significant expansion in wind power, the test blade facility will help make sure that the best, most efficient wind turbines are built right here in America,” Secretary Chu said.

When selecting Massachusetts for this facility in June 2007, the Department of Energy pledged $2 million for the project.  Since then, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust has committed $13.2 million in grants and loans for design and initial development expenses, working capital and first year operating expenses.

With the Recovery Act funding announced today, construction of the facility can begin in September, and will be complete by the end of 2010, according to a DOE release.

“The clean energy technology sector is taking root and growing in Massachusetts, and hosting a national wind technology testing center will be a big boost,” said Governor Patrick. “Testing the next generation of wind turbines here will make Massachusetts a hub for the fastest-growing energy source in the world.”

Once finished, the center will be the first commercial large blade test facility in the nation, allowing for testing of blades longer than 50 meters, which currently can be done in Europe but not in the United States--putting American manufacturers at a disadvantage.

More research and development into longer blades will quicken the creation of large-scale offshore wind power facilities.  The facility will attract companies to design, manufacture, and test their blades in the United States. It will also promote the growth of American companies who are part of the supply chain for wind turbine production--including fiber glass distributors, advanced composite materials manufacturers and others.

The location of the testing center, at the Boston Autoport in Boston Harbor, provides a shovel ready site featuring proximity to substantial offshore wind resources, truck access, a rail spur and a 1200 ft. dock for transporting blades from ocean going vessels.

Secretary Chu recently announced $93 million in Recovery Act funds to support advanced wind energy research projects.

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