State pitches in on wind energy facility funding

The South Carolina Budget and Control Board Wednesday approved $7 million dollars for first-year funds for a wind turbine project that will help the state become a worldwide contender in wind energy. The governor was the only dissenting vote, questioning whether the state can sustain the project –which is in part funded by federal stimulus money. With this approval, Clemson continues to match a $45 million DOE grant with $53 million¬†from public and private partnerships.
Also¬†Wednesday Clemson appointed Nick Rigas to be director and senior scientist for this unique testing facility. “Manufacturers worldwide, would have access to facilities to bring in their new turbines and new drive trains that they are developing and actually test them under simulated conditions prior to their putting them out in the field,” Rigas says.
The university says this project will pay for itself in a few years, and according to John Kelly, Executive Director of the Restoration institute, it will change the state over the next 20 years.
According to Kelly, “The state will have a very significant new source of energy available, particularly for the coastal communities –which is obviously where a huge amount of our tourists go and a large amount of our population lives.”
He says this wind testing facility will become a destination for new industry. “As these turbines become much larger than the ones that currently exist, and the blades much longer–most of that assembly and production will actually be in the coastal area. And obviously the proximity to the Charleston port and the shipyard would essentially make people want to locate quite close to where we’re talking about building the drive test facility,” Kelly projects.