Clemson to test world’s most powerful wind turbine

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind’s V164-9.5 MW wind turbine will be tested at Clemson University’s SCE&G Energy Innovation Center in North Charleston.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina — MHI Vestas Offshore Wind and Clemson University in South Carolina announced that the world’s most powerful wind turbine (the V164-9.5 MW) will have all testing and verification of the wind turbine’s gearbox and main bearings carried out at the university’s state-of-the-art 15 MW test bench.

MHI Vestas-Clemson University logos“We are delighted to have found such world-class facilities to carry out vital testing of the world’s most powerful wind turbine,” said Jakob Søbye, senior director of technology at MHI Vestas. “The testing and verification of the gearbox and bearings will allow us to optimize the performance and reliability of the wind turbine.”

The V164-9.5 MW wind turbine is the turbine most likely to be used for the first round of major offshore wind projects in the United States.

“MHI Vestas’ decision to partner with Clemson to test its most powerful wind turbine is a testament to the expertise of our faculty and staff working at the test facility,” said Robert Jones, Clemson executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The work that will be done as result of this partnership also will further Clemson’s efforts to establish the university as a leader in technologies related to the production of alternative energy sources, and hopefully will lead to further research and economic engagement opportunities for Clemson.”

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The testing allows MHI Vestas to gain a better understanding of how the 9.5 MW gearbox and bearings will react over the course of a 20-plus year lifecycle. Through the utilization of big data from the test results, MHI Vestas can optimize the service strategy for the turbine to ensure optimum reliability and minimize the fatigue on components.

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind's V164-9.5 MW wind turbine will be tested at Clemson University's SCE&G Energy Innovation Center in North Charleston.
MHI Vestas Offshore Wind’s V164-9.5 MW wind turbine will be tested at Clemson University’s SCE&G Energy Innovation Center in North Charleston.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations
The $35 million total project investment will direct as much as $23 million over five years to Clemson and stimulate the employment of a dozen high-tech jobs.

The deal with Clemson University marks MHI Vestas Offshore Wind’s first major investment in the United States, catapulting the U.S. into a leadership position in offshore wind as the country will now be testing the world’s most powerful wind turbine. It is anticipated that visitors from around the world will come to Clemson to see the test setup.

“Clemson’s facilities are second-to-none and will enable MHI Vestas to accelerate their technology to the market and usher in a new source of renewable energy vital to our energy future,” said Randy Collins, the university’s associate vice president in Charleston. “Not only will this work advance wind turbine technology, it will propagate over into the education of our students and advancement of scientific knowledge. It is a true win-win for our respective institutions.”

MHI Vestas testing footprint includes facilities in Denmark (Århus and Lindø), the United Kingdom (Isle of Wight) and now a relationship with the Clemson University facility in the U.S.

In November 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Clemson University in South Carolina the largest grant in the university’s history to build and operate a facility to test next-generation wind-turbine drivetrain technology. The award represented an enormous economic development opportunity for the region. The 82,000-square-foot facility was designed to house not only the wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility, but also grid integration studies.

Space in the Energy Innovation Center is designed for public-private partnerships to house Clemson University personnel and students with company partners. The Energy Innovation Center can test drivetrains on two test rigs: one up to 7.5 megawatts and the other up to 15 megawatts.

The $98 million testing facility was funded by a $45 million Energy Department grant and matched by $53 million of public and private funds. The grant’s objective is to accelerate development of new technology for the wind market to reduce the cost of energy. The facility’s mission is to provide high value, high quality and cost-competitive testing services to industry, and to establish long-term workforce development, research and education partnerships.

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MHI Vestas Offshore Wind
MHI Vestas Offshore Wind is a joint venture between Vestas Wind Systems A/S 50% and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries* (MHI) 50%. The company’s focus is to design, manufacture, install and service wind turbines for the offshore wind industry. The company aims to create sustainable value through offshore wind power by driving capital and operating savings and increasing the power output of wind turbines. An innovative force in offshore wind since its inception in 2014, the company is guided by its founding principles of collaboration, trust, technology and commitment. For more information, see www.mhivestasoffshore.com or follow @MHIVestas on Twitter.

Clemson University Wind Turbine Drivetrain Test Facility in North Charleston, South Carolina
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Clemson University the largest grant in the university’s history to build and operate a facility to test next-generation wind-turbine drivetrain technology. The $98 million testing facility was funded by a $45 million Energy Department grant and matched by $53 million of public and private funds. The objective was to accelerate development of new technology for the wind market to reduce the cost of energy. The facility’s mission is to provide high value, high quality and cost-competitive testing services to industry, and to establish long-term workforce development, research and education partnerships.

Space in the Energy Innovation Center is designed for public-private partnerships to house Clemson University personnel and students with company partners. The Energy Innovation Center can test drivetrains on two test rigs: one up to 7.5 megawatts and the other up to 15 megawatts.

The V164-9.5 MW Turbine

9.5 MW rated power, with an optimal rotor to generator ratio
Redesigned gearbox and cooling system upgrades from the V164-9.0 MW
80 m blades, the equivalent of nine double decker London buses
Each blade weighs 35 tonnes
Swept area of 21,124 m2, larger than the London Eye
The nacelle is 20 m long, 8 m wide and 8 m high, weighing approximately 390 tonnes
Approximate hub height of 105 m
Approximate tip height of 187 m
Reduces operational and maintenance costs by enabling customers to run fewer, larger turbines
World record production by a single wind turbine of 216 MWh in 24-hour period (December 2016)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), headquartered in Tokyo, is one of the world’s leading industrial firms with 80,000 group employees and annual consolidated revenues of around 38 billion U.S. dollars. For more than 130 years, the company has channeled big thinking into innovative and integrated solutions that move the world forward. MHI owns a unique business portfolio covering land, sea, sky and even space. MHI delivers innovative and integrated solutions across a wide range of industries from commercial aviation and transportation to power plants and gas turbines, and from machinery and infrastructure to integrated defense and space systems.
For more information, please visit MHI’s website: www.mhi.com