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. State Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles joined Secretary Chu and Governor Patrick for the announcement at the Autoport in Charlestown, the eventual site of testing center.
This is part of President Obamas broad agenda to make sure that our country leads the world in capturing the clean energy jobs of the future, said Secretary Chu. 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. Not only will it create jobs and help us achieve energy independence, it will mean cleaner air, cleaner water and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
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.
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. The state is now concluding the final design for the testing center, while DOE completes the environmental review and public consultation process.
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 fiberglass 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.
The announcement brings the total commitment of Recovery Act funding by the Department of Energy for wind development to $118 million. Building upon President Obamas commitment to promote increased use of renewable energy, Secretary Chu recently announced $93 million in Recovery Act funds to support advanced wind energy research projects in the United States during a recent visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).