Project Summary
Dominion Energy Innovation Center

This award-winning facility is home to two engineering marvels: the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility and the Duke Energy eGrid.

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The Space
  • BD+C “Building Team Awards” Gold Level Winner
  • ENR “Best of the Best” Projects, Energy/ Industrial Category, Editor’s Choice
  • ENR Southeast “Best Projects” Regional Award Winner, Energy/Industrial
  • ABCC “Project of the Year”
  • Carolinas AGC Pinnacle Award Winner, Building Category
  • ABC Carolinas Eagle Award for Excellence in Construction
  • Construction Mgmt. Assoc. of America Project Achievement Award
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of SC Engineering Excellence Award
  • American Galvanizers Assoc. “Excellence in Hot-Dip Galvanizing” Award
Square Footage 82,000
Location Charleston, SC
With a core purpose of speeding innovation to market in the field of wind energy, the Innovation Center is the first construction within the 27 acre Energy Systems Campus of the Clemson University Restoration Institute. Housing the world’s most sophisticated and most powerful wind turbine drivetrain testing equipment, the LEED Gold certified facility is the result of the largest cost share grant ever awarded by the Department of Energy ($45 million) and over $60 million in public and private funding. Located within a decommissioned U.S. Navy warehouse atop a rehabilitated brownfield site, the 82,000-SF facility supports the critical testing of next generation off-shore wind turbines by allowing businesses to simulate in mere months over 20 years of rigors faced by the turbine systems at sea. The facility is also home to the Duke Energy eGRID, a 15-megawatt hardware-in-the-loop grid simulator capable of testing and validating the impact of wind energy on the nation’s aging electrical grid without the real-world risks to the existing grid.

The scope of work for this internationally recognized project included a complete renovation and equipment integration of the building, test equipment and site infrastructure. The facility’s two independent test rigs are equipped with motor and gearbox drive systems with blade force simulation capabilities. At 15MW, Rig #1 weighs as much as a Boeing 787 and has the capability to apply dynamic loads to the main shaft of the specimen drivetrain, replicating forces and moments along three orthogonal axes, thereby simulating actual blade forces experienced in the field.

A 125-ton crane installed in the test bay supports operations of this rig. At 7.5MW, Rig #2 has the capability to apply static offaxis loads to the main shaft of the specimen drivetrain, replicating forces and moments without dynamic components. A 100-ton capacity crane system supports Rig #2 equipment movement.

BIM Model of LAU Reinforcement Ring

With over 900 tons of rebar bent to perfection at nearly the micron level, clash detection proved a critical challenge. Choate created the entire BIM model in-house to coordinate all of the rebar, anchors, piles and cross bracing of the foundation. On initial review, Choate identified over 8,500 conflicts in the test rig foundation.


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