For Immediate Release - June 25, 2007

Massachusetts Gets Nod for National Facility to Test Blades for Wind Turbines

U.S. Secretary of Energy Bodman meets with Governor Patrick, announces renewable energy test site to be located in Charlestown

BOSTON - Monday, June 25 - U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today informed Governor Deval Patrick that Massachusetts has been chosen as the site for a National Renewable Energy Laboratory Wind Technology Testing Center.

This state-of-the-art facility will become a leading center for large wind blade testing in North America, capable of assessing the structural integrity and durability of commercial wind-turbine blades of up to 230 feet in length. The wind test center will be located in Charlestown, in the Boston Autoport property owned by Massport and currently operated by Diversified Automotive.

"Hosting a national wind technology testing center will boost the clean energy technology sector already taking root in Massachusetts," said Governor Patrick. "This is an important win for us, and further proof that Massachusetts is on the way to becoming a global center for renewable energy."

Rapid growth in wind turbine size over the past two decades has outgrown the capabilities of DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory's National Wind Technology Center, located outside Boulder, Colorado, which operates the only blade test facility in North America capable of performing full-scale testing of megawatt-scale wind turbine blades. The Massachusetts testing center is the first of two announced today by Secretary Bodman. The second will be located in Ingleside, Texas.

"These two testing facilities represent an important next step in the expansion of competitiveness of the U.S. domestic wind energy industry," said Secretary Bodman. "We congratulate Massachusetts and Texas for their outstanding proposals and we believe this work will build upon the Administration's goal of prompting states to research, develop, and deploy more clean energy technologies."

"I commend Governor Patrick for his leadership in bringing this important investment to Massachusetts and for his commitment to keeping Massachusetts at the forefront of new energy technologies for the future," said U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy. "This partnership has the potential to produce the breakthroughs vital to guiding our nation to a cleaner, more independent energy future, and it's gratifying that Secretary Bodman and the Department of Energy have confidence in that potential."

"I am proud that Boston has been chosen among cities across the US to be the home for the National Renewable Energy Lab Wind Blade Test Facility," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Boston is among the world's leading cities for clean technology innovation, an emerging economic cluster that will help advance Boston and the Commonwealth's ambitious climate protection goals while creating good jobs."

U.S. DOE will provide $2 million in technology licensing and leases, as well as staff support to certify and launch the facility. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which will lease space for the facility from Diversified Automotive, is providing, through its Renewable Energy Trust, more than $13 million in grant and loan financing for construction and start-up costs for the center, which will eventually become self-sustaining. MTC financing consists of:

  • $7 million grant to fund capital cost of the building
  • $5 million in loans for potential capital costs
  • $1.2 million as a working capital loan

MTC will also create a $5 million fund to support extraordinary research opportunities related to the test center's work.

Other partners in the winning proposal include the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Resource Laboratory and the state's Executive Offices of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Housing and Economic Development.

Although the facility itself will at the start employ just eight technicians, examining two blades at a time for three to four months, the testing site is expected to become a hub of wind-turbine engineering, with blade designers and manufacturers drawn to the area.

"This national testing facility will be a magnet for the emerging wind-energy industry, which is ultimately a precision engineering and composite materials business," said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Dan O'Connell. "Massachusetts has a proud history in this field, and this center will translate into new jobs for years to come."

The wind turbine test facility announcement comes on the heels of Evergreen Solar deciding in April to locate its first U.S. solar-panel manufacturing plant in Massachusetts, after working closely with the Patrick Administration on new initiatives to spur the adoption of solar energy in the Commonwealth, and after moves by clean-energy entrepreneurs to organize a trade association following Governor Patrick's encouragement to do so.

"Thanks to intellectual resources, venture capital, and entrepreneurial spirit, Massachusetts is well positioned to become a national and international leader in clean energy," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. "Massachusetts can blaze the trail toward a clean energy future, and the world will follow."

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