Wind turbine facility to pour foundation of test area

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's a major milestone for the future of wind turbine technology. Soon companies all over the world will ship their wind turbines to North Charleston, to undergo testing.

Existing wind turbines can each generate enough energy to power up to 900 homes. New turbines that will be tested in North Charleston may be able to create up to five times more energy each.

"It is going to be the most advanced testing facility for turbines in the world, for the next generation of turbines, not stuff that has already been built. Therefore, it is forward looking and higher in capability than existing facilities," project manager Jim Tuten said.

Construction crews have spent more than a year prepping a site at the Old Navy Base, to transform it into Clemson University's Wind Turbine Testing Facility. Engineers are now ready to pour the foundation for the test area for the wind turbines.

"Here in the Lowcountry, where we have poor soil conditions, we have earthquakes, we have hurricanes, and hazards to deal with, it has been a real challenge to build a foundation to survive all those conditions," Tuten said.

Crews will work through Thursday night to complete the task of pouring all the concrete. "We have approximately 18 concrete trucks set up for the pour, three on back up in case we have any issues," construction site supervisor Scott Willett said.

Engineers will also have the ability to test wind turbines weighing up to 400 tons when the facility is complete.

Companies from around the globe are looking into shipping their equipment here for testing in the future.

"It's a wonderful project. It can help bring the United States back into the forefront of wind turbine technology. We have been lagging the rest of the world. It's a one of a kind, unique facility and those are always exciting to work on," Tuten said.

The groundbreaking of the facility took place in October of 2010 and testing for both small and large wind turbines will begin by spring of next year. These wind turbines are worth anywhere from $10 million to $40 million.

Clemson University and its partners are paying for the facility with a $45 million grant from the US Department of Energy and $53 million dollars of matching funds from state and private funds.

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