At the SWiFT facility in Lubbock, Texas, Sandians partner with other researchers to study the interaction of multiple wind turbines in a wind farm. Funded through the Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office, SWiFT was specifically designed to investigate, test, and develop technology to optimize wind farm design and operation. It is the first public facility to use multiple wind turbines entirely for research and development purposes.

The SWiFT facility exists to:

  • Reduce wind plant underperformance
  • Develop and test advanced wind turbine rotors and other technologies
  • Deliver public, open-source data to advance simulation capabilities and basic physical understanding of wind energy

The site normally operates three variable-speed, variable-pitch, research wind turbines with full power conversion. Designed to represent operational utility wind turbines, the SWiFT turbines are monitored via a vast sensor suite, including two anemometer meteorological towers to the south of the turbines to capture atmospheric inflow data. SWiFT’s data collection is augmented with that made available by partner Texas Tech University to create a site-wide, time-synchronized data set that enables a multi-scale understanding of the meteorological conditions at the site and the turbines' behavior within those conditions.

Deployed at the SWiFT facility, the National Rotor Testbed (NRT) provides an experimental blade platform for public and private entities to test new rotor technologies. Sandia has established a baseline blade design that is public and open. This enables and supports a broad range of research in wake interactions, aero-acoustics, aerodynamics, controls, and aeroeleastic dynamics.

Supported by Sandia's Wind Energy Technologies Department, the SWiFT facility contributes to the portion of Sandia's mission that includes "creating value through products and services that solve important national security challenges." Research that improves wind turbine performance and reliability will reduce the cost of wind energy and ensure a sustainable domestic energy source for the future.