Link to Press Release in CU Newsroom
Clemson University Newsroom
June 7, 2011

NORTH CHARLESTON — The Clemson University Restoration Institute has finalized the main contracts for the design and construction of the world’s largest wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility.

Choate Construction Co. of Mount Pleasant will provide construction management services for the project, which has an estimated construction budget of $22 million.

AEC Engineering, which has U.S. offices in Minneapolis and Richmond, Va., will provide architectural and engineering design of the facility and testing system integration. AEC’s contract is valued at $2.4 million.

Both firms were selected through a competitive bid process.

AEC has subcontracted with North Charleston-based architectural and engineering firm Davis and Floyd to provide local civil engineering services, permitting and architectural services.

The $98 million testing facility, which was funded by a $45 million U.S. Department of Energy grant and matched by $53 million of public and private funds, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

The facility will be capable of full-scale highly accelerated testing of advanced drivetrain systems for wind turbines in the five-megawatt to 15-megawatt range with a 30 percent overload capacity.

A drivetrain takes energy generated by a turbine’s blades and increases the rotational speed to drive the electrical generator, similar to the transmission in a car.

The award was the largest single grant ever received by the university and places one of the most important sites for wind energy research and development in South Carolina.

The testing facility will be housed in Building 69, an 82,264-square-foot former Navy warehouse adjacent to existing rail and ship-handling infrastructure. The first section was built in 1942, modified in 1961, expanded in 1985 and decommissioned in 1995. It served as the main warehouse for the Navy’s storage of non-hazardous materials.

The project’s founding partners are: The Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority; the S.C. Department of Commerce; the state of South Carolina; S.C. Public Railways; S.C. State Ports Authority; and private partners Renk Labeco Test Systems, Tony Bakker and James Meadors.

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Choate Construction Co.
Founded in 1989, Choate maintains offices in Mount Pleasant; Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; and Atlanta and Savannah, Ga. The company’s portfolio includes projects in multiple markets, including research and development, manufacturing, data centers and biomedical research. Choate recently completed construction of Windshear Inc.’s rolling road wind tunnel in Concord, N.C. This 22,127-square-foot facility, which is the first of its kind in North America, is utilized chiefly by NASCAR and other brands of auto racing. The facility’s “rolling road” was designed to simulate on-track racing conditions at speeds up to 180 mph.

AEC Engineering
AEC is a multidiscipline engineering and consulting firm serving the power, petrochemical, renewable and alternative energy, manufacturing and science sectors. AEC is part of the IDOM Group of Bilbao, Spain, an employee-owned international engineering, architectural and consulting firm with more than 2,700 staff in the Americas, Europe, North Africa and Middle East. AEC-IDOM has significant experience in providing engineering for unique scientific and testing installations around the world. In 2007, the company provided complete design, procurement and construction management of the CENER national renewable energy center drivetrain testing facility near Pamplona, Spain.