Yesterday, the Charleston region officially became home to the world’s most advanced drivetrain testing facility, and the first-of-its-kind smart grid simulator. Dubbed the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, this state-of-the-art research center will play a big role in shaping the world’s energy future.
More than 1,000 people came to witness yesterday’s official dedication of this game-changing energy facility, including senior officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, SCANA, SCE&G, Duke Energy, GE, Shell and Clemson University.
Launched by the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI), the $98 million energy testing facility is one of only three places in the world capable of testing next generation wind turbine drivetrains, with testing capacity three-times greater than any other facility currently in operation.
The Energy Innovation Center also hosts the Duke Energy eGRID center (Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development)—a world-class testing platform that mimics “real-world” conditions such as major power outages, voltage drops and physical attacks—without posing a risk to the “real-world” grid. The unique 15 MW Hardware-in-the-Loop eGRID center will serve as a stage for developing, testing and certifying new technology for the electrical market.
Here are just a few additional ways the Energy Innovation Center is putting the Charleston region at the forefront of testing and developing energy systems:
- Attracting Global Players – The center’s capabilities have already caught the attention of major energy companies such as GE Energy, Duke Energy, Shell and SCE&G—garnering more than $50 million in investment. In fact, more than 150 companies and agencies were involved in creating the Energy Innovation Center. GE Energy has even established a 7.5 MW drivetrain unit at the facility, announcing that the company would be the Innovation Center’s first customer.
- More than Wind – The facility can test up to 7.5 MW and 15 MW simultaneously—making it the world’s most advanced drivetrain testing facility. The testing capabilities apply to power systems in automotive, marine and aviation industries. In fact, German-based advanced powertrain and vehicle systems technologies developer, FEV Inc. announced its decision establish an R&D center of excellence within the Energy Innovation Center campus last week.
- Educating the Next Generation – Clemson University is building the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center on CURI’s campus adjacent to the Innovation Center to foster collaboration between students, university faculty and private industry to further advance the next generation of technology and expertise.
Energy systems are a key industry target and cornerstone of the CRDA’s strategy to build a sustainable, diverse regional economy. This week’s dedication of the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center marks a major step forward in paving the way for global companies and suppliers to test, develop and launch their technologies in the Lowcountry.