The NREL Controllable Grid Interface Project is the first test facility in the U.S. with fault-simulation capabilities. It is also the only system in the world fully integrated with two dynamometers designed to work with four types of wind turbines. Designing and constructing the NREL Controllable Grid Interface (CGI) to help test the response of wind turbines was a highly technical design-build project unlike anything ever created.
The upgraded 5-MW dynamometer can test the largest wind turbine drivetrains used in land-based markets. Its capability to simulate wind loads in six degrees of freedom provides the most complete simulation of wind turbine-operating conditions available in North America. In addition, the new facility can simulate the grid connection to test low-voltage, ride-through capability and response to faults and other abnormal grid conditions.
The function of this project required the design team to create a highly technical industrial system that had not been developed before while addressing future plans of the National Wind Technology Center. The CGI will eventually be connected to grid-scale storage systems and other renewable-energy generation systems such as photovoltaic arrays. Because NREL had a small budget for this project, the design team's goal was to accomplish a functional design while making future expansion more achievable.
The project began with a $20-million vision from NREL for a 10-year plan. With only a $2-million budget, the design team was focused on creating a budget-friendly system that was still functional as well as ensuring that the system would be compatible with a future site plan.
The project is an important asset to NREL's vision to be an essential partner in the technical development and large-scale deployment of wind power. The data retrieved from testing four types of turbines from the CGI will provide research to boost wind plant power production, reduce wind plant capital cost, improve reliability, lower operations and maintenance costs and eliminate barriers to large-scale deployment.
Best Colorado/Wyoming Energy/Industrial Project
NREL Controllable Grid Interface
Jefferson County, Colo.
Owner Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo.
Architect Flad Architects, Madison, Wis.
General Contractor I-Kota, Denver
Civil Engineer R&R Engineering, Denver
Mechanical Engineer AEI, Madison, Wis.
Electrical Engineers ACS, Madison, Wis., and The RMH Group, Lakewood, Colo.
Electrical Contractor Weifield Group Contracting, Denver