Harvesting the wind on the South Plains has been a long time function, using Mother Nature to draw water from the ground for irrigation and watering.
At the Reese Technology Center, researchers are taking that wind harvesting much further with the SWiFT Facility, aiming to understand and improve that blowing gold.
"We can take new technologies and new concepts and do rapid prototyping through this particular facility because it's not full scale. Therefore it's cheaper and faster to work through this scale to get to the full scale," John Schroeder, National Wind Institute Director at Texas Tech said.
Schroeder said the Scaled Wind Farm Technology Facility (SWiFT) is the first of it's kind in the world. This technology was driven by a collaboration of five entities including Texas Tech University, the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, Vestas and Group NIRE.
"Our goal because of the type of partnership that we have between the university, laboratory and industry, is to transition a lot of that innovation into commercial space," Jose Zayas, Director of Wind and Water Power Technologies for the DOE said.
Zayas said that will help reduce the cost of wind energy world wide.
"So you can imagine that the wind plants into the future will actually see technology that is developed here, right here in Lubbock, Texas. We're really excited about that," Zayas said.
The economic leadership of Lubbock is excited too, with good reason.
"We see there's a lot of opportunities for manufacturers, of not only the main units but also the component parts, to locate in Lubbock. That's especially so with the amount of research that's taking place here," John Osborne, LEDA President said.
Dr. Duane Nellis, Tech's new President, said this research brands the university as a powerhouse of game-changing projects in wind energy.
"It demonstrates our national prominence in this area of research. It's something that contributes to our visibility from a national and international perspective," Nellis said.
The trio of instrumented turbines currently at the SWiFT facility is only the beginning of building wind plants of the future.
"We started with three, that's a nice number but it's not where we want to end. We'd like to it end at seven or ten turbines. When we do that, we'll have a bigger array and really be able to go after those concepts with more vigor."
The state-of-the-art SWiFT Facility will be operational by the fall.