A Grand Opening party attracting some 250 attendees was held Friday, June 22 to celebrate the official launch of Knight & Carver’s new wind-blade production and repair facility.
The 26,000 square foot plant marks the company’s entry into the Upper Midwest, where the presence of abundant wind resources has the potential to transform the region into a national leader for the production of renewable energy through wind power.
“We are proud to call South Dakota our new home, where we expect to be a strong economic engine in the production and repair of wind blades for many years to come,” said Sampson A. Brown, President/CEO of Knight & Carver. “We are grateful to the many local and state leaders, led by Governor Mike Rounds, who helped make this ambitious dream become a reality.”
Already in partial operation since March, the plant is now fully equipped and operational. The all-weather building was built to Knight & Carver’s precise specifications and needs under terms of a five-year lease. Economic incentives were provided by the State of South Dakota, Miner County Community Revitalization (MCCR) and Heartland Consumers Power District in Howard.
“As part of our pledge to fully utilize the state’s human resources as our company grows, we expect to employ up to 25 South Dakota-based production workers here in Howard by mid-July,” said Gary Kanaby, Knight & Carver’s Director of Business Development. In addition, up to 10 South Dakota-based workers will soon be dispatched to wind farms around the Upper Midwest for various blade repair and maintenance projects.
Knight & Carver’s facility is located in Howard Industrial Park, adjacent to Energy Maintenance Services, a wind turbine service company that opened two years ago. The two companies are working closely on several projects, a cooperative effort that fits the goals of Howard Industrial Park.
Currently, Knight & Carver’s Howard plant is headquarters for the innovative STAR blade, which stands for “Sweep Twist Adaptive Rotor.” The first blade of its kind ever built, STAR’s most distinctive characteristic is a gently curved tip. Unlike the vast majority of blades in current use, STAR is specially designed for low-wind-speed regions.
Sized overall at 27.1 meters (approx. 90’) x 2.4 meters (approx. 7’8”), the blade takes advantage of all wind speeds, including marginal speeds. Instead of the traditional linear shape, the blade features a curvature toward the trailing edge, designed to relieve loads on the blade and turbine drive.
Upon completion in August, the initial set of STAR blades will delivered to a test site for full rotor testing. A fourth blade will be delivered to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Boulder, CO for additional fatigue testing. The $2.8 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, was honoured last year with the DofE’s “Outstanding Research and Development Partnership Award.” The project is conducted in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of California at Davis and Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM.
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