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Power grid test next for Clemson

Charleston Post and Courier
David Slade
April 29, 2012

Clemson University has secured funding to create a multimillion-dollar energy grid testing system at the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility in North Charleston.

The project, which needs state approval, would allow Clemson to test how power grids, and power-producing equipment, would react under simulated stressful conditions.

“At 15 megawatts, this will be the largest grid simulator in the world,” said Nick Rigas, senior scientist and director of the drivetrain testing center.

“It can test any multimegawatt device,” he said. “It will be able to simulate any grid conditions.”

Such testing is important to power companies and to manufacturers of wind turbines, solar power systems, energy-storage devices and diesel engines.

The grid simulator would complement the wind turbine drivetrain testing at the facility, but also would greatly expand the range of businesses that could be attracted to the area.

“Led by utilities, the project has been fully funded,” he said.

State approval is needed to approve Clemson’s spending of the funds because it is a state university.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., in a regulatory filing related to accounting for a $1 million grant toward the project cost, outlined the usefulness of the grid testing plan this way:

“The 15 megawatt hardware-in-the-loop Grid Simulator Facility will have the unique capability to model grid conditions anywhere in the world and will allow real equipment to be placed under simulated dynamic conditions to evaluate the impact of the grid on the device and the possible influences of the device on the grid.”

Grid testing has become increasingly important due to the use of power sources, such as wind and solar, that generate varying amounts of power at different times.

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