NREL Row 4 Infrastructure
Jefferson County, Colorado
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
The RMH Group designed the new electrical infrastructure for the Row 4 Turbines project located at NREL's National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). The NWTC works to collaborate with industry to help further wind technology and to accelerate its commercialization in the marketplace. The project features an innovative electrical infrastructure that supports new utility-scale wind turbines being tested on the site.
Prior to this project, the largest turbines tested on the NWTC site were capable of generating 600 kilowatts of power. To support wind turbines capable of producing up to 5 megawatts (MW) of power each, RMH designed a flexible and robust new electrical infrastructure that allows for testing of large new turbines as they come to market, all while protecting existing site operations and distributing cleanly produced power to local users.
The first four wind turbines connected to the new infrastructure are utility-scale 1.5 MW, 2 MW, 2.3 MW, and 3 MW. The new turbines are already adding significant quantities of high-quality power to the local utility grid — approximately 1,150 MW hours per month during the windy season, which is enough to power approximately 1,900 homes.
Since the NWTC is a research site, the infrastructure needs to be much more flexible in nature than a traditional wind farm. The experimental nature of the NWTC requires researchers to make regular adjustments to the turbines and to replace them relatively frequently when new turbines need to be tested. RMH designed the new infrastructure to have built-in flexibility that gives researchers the ability to easily adjust their experiments and swap out the giant turbines as needed. The flexibility of the new infrastructure accommodates total power output of more than 10 MW, and this capacity limit may be within reach in the next five years.