Board caps planning session with NREL tour

Following a two-day strategic planning session held for the Tri-State board on Jan. 13-14, at Westminster headquarters, the association’s directors and several members of senior management staff boarded a chartered bus for an afternoon tour of a portion of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) complex, near Golden, Colo., followed by a visit to the site of NREL’s National Wind Technology Center in northern Jefferson County.

Dana Christiansen, with NREL, gives a brief overview presentation on the center prior to guided tours of the Energy Systems Integration Facility.

Dana Christiansen, with NREL, gives a brief overview presentation on the center prior to guided tours of the Energy Systems Integration Facility.

The tours were hosted by Dr. Bryan Hannegan and several of his colleagues at NREL. Hannegan, an NREL scientist and engineer, was a guest speaker at last week’s Tri-State monthly board meeting held Jan. 7-8 in Westminster.

Hannegan, who specializes in the field of renewable integration into the national power grid, provided a tour of NREL’s 182,000 square-foot, Energy System Integration Center, where about 200 of NREL’s 2,400 employees conduct simulations and research on small and utility scale technologies that are emerging in the marketplace.

A multiple vehicle hybrid vehicle charging station is being tested for client, Toyota Motor Co.

A multiple vehicle hybrid vehicle charging station is being tested for client, Toyota Motor Co.

This one-of-a-kind facility is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories with megawatt-scale testing capabilities, integrated electrical, thermal and fuel infrastructures, advanced data analysis and visualization capabilities. Their testing ranges from the “smart” energy efficient home, performance characteristics of energy storage systems, to the grid impact of multiple hybrid vehicle charging stations.

NREL was first developed as the Solar Energy Research Institute in the mid-1970s and has since evolved into a world-renowned research and development center focusing on the development of new products and technologies in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency research for solar, wind, bioenergy, transportation, buildings and manufacturing.

At the National Wind Technology Center in Jefferson County, Colo., is this recently completed facility for testing wind turbines of up to 5 megawatts in output.

At the National Wind Technology Center in Jefferson County, Colo., is this recently completed facility for testing wind turbines of up to 5 megawatts in output.

At the National Wind Technology Center, Rob Wall, senior engineer at the site, explained that because of the volatile winds that funnel down from Coal Creek Canyon to the west of the center in excess of 100 mph at times, “This is an excellent place to really put to put a wind machine through its paces and a terrible place for a wind farm since the wind does not blow here consistently – with less than a 10 percent capacity factor,” he said.

In addition to up to 11 megawatts of installed wind machines at the wind site ranging in size from 660 kilowatts to massive 3-megawatt Alstom wind turbine generator, the center also features two large high bay wind turbine dynamometer facilities for testing wind turbine generators of up to 5 megawatts in capacity. There is also a separate facility for wind turbine blade analysis and research.

NREL is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and its 350 business partners, who benefit from the results of the research that is conducted at the center.

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