Recovery Act Announcement: DOE Celebrates Groundbreaking for Massachusetts Large Wind Blade Test Facility

December 1, 2009

Representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) today joined Massachusetts state officials to break ground for a $40 million facility to test large wind turbine blades. This project, supported by $25 million in DOE funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will spur the development of next-generation wind turbine technology in the United States while creating 250 immediate construction jobs.

The facility will be the only U.S. test center capable of testing wind turbine blades up to 90 meters long for both land-based and offshore wind energy systems. This capability will aid in the development of a domestic supply chain for wind energy systems in the United States and will allow U.S. wind turbine manufacturers to compete with entrenched European firms.

Currently, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) operates the only facility in North America capable of performing full-scale testing of large wind turbine blades. Blade tests are required to meet wind turbine design standards, reduce the cost of wind energy, and reduce the technical and financial risk of deploying mass-produced wind turbine models.

Rapid growth in wind turbine size and demand over the past two decades has outstripped the capabilities of the DOE-NREL blade test facility, creating the need for a complementary blade test facility capable of testing even larger blades for land-based and offshore wind turbines. Massachusetts is contributing $13 million to the testing facility project, for a total project cost of $40 million. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2010.

For more information about DOE's Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program, see the Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program Web site.