Clemson's wind turbine test facility reaches milestone

      (Alan Garmendia/WCIV)

      NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)-- Construction of Clemson University's Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility reached a milestone Thursday as the foundation for the smaller test rig was poured.

      According to a release from the university, it took "enough concrete to fill the trunks of more than 1,000 Chevy Impalas" to complete the foundation alone. That's 750 cubic yards of concrete in a 25 feet wide by 86 feet long by 10 feet deep channel, all resting on 75 steel piles, to form the 7.5-megawatt test rig foundation.

      Pouring the concrete will last through the night to take advantage of generally calmer weather conditions and minimize traffic congestion. The operation is expected to finish by about 7 a.m. Friday.{}

      Click here{}to view a streaming webcam of the testing facility construction site.

      "Meticulous planning and preparation are the keys to any successful pour of this magnitude," said Matt Hartig, senior project manager at Choate Construction. " You only get one shot to get such a massive pour right."

      The pour marks a milestone for the construction project. After breaking ground in October 2010, construction began the following year. The project involves completely redeveloping an 82,000-square-foot warehouse on the former Navy base.

      The project is funded by a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, which was combined with $53 million of matching funds.

      The project is scheduled to be complete at the beginning of next year.{}

      Jim Tuten, Clemson project manager for the testing facility, said such a major construction event emphasizes the strong working relationship necessary from everyone involved in the project to properly plan and execute the pour.

      "The mere scale of this project means we're breaking new ground on a regular basis," Tuten said. "We keep the lines of communication flowing freely, and as such we expect the concrete Thursday night and early Friday morning to flow just as freely."