National Wind Technology Center, Boulder CO

Research and Demonstration Turbine

The National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) is part of NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), one of US-DOE's national laboratories.The NWTC, with a staff of 80 and an annual budget of ~ $20 million, is America's lead research organization and facility for wind turbine research. It is located outside Boulder, Colorado in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. While the NWTC has only a modest annual average wind speed (4.5 m/s or 10 mph), it is a very good place to test the robustness of a wind system because it regularly gets wind storms with winds in excess of 54 m/s (120 mph). Dozens of commercial and prototype wind turbines have been damaged or destroyed by these fierce winds while undergoing testing at the Rocky Flats site of the NWTC.

A 10 kW Bergey wind turbine was installed in 1984 at the US-DOE Rocky Flats facility (which became the NWTC in 1995). The photo above shows the Bergey turbine installed on its 30 m (100 ft) Tilt-up tower, with the main laboratory building in the background. Over the years this turbine has been used for grid-intertie tests, blade structural load tests, battery-charging tests, and has been shown to thousands of visitors. This turbine is currently in use on a village power test set-up on a different tower. This Bergey Excel, now 15 years old, is the longest running turbine at the NWTC.