The blades of the giant wind turbine at the Applied Materials’ Varian Semiconductor Associates campus in Blackburn Industrial Park are turning again, but residents shouldn’t get used to seeing them spinning for long.
Rick Johnson, facilities director for the Varian site, said Wednesday morning that the turbine, idle since a technical problem forced its shutdown last September, is being tested since one of the needed, smaller “technical repairs” was made to a portion of the turbine’s generator.
But he said the tests will only continue on a temporary basis over the coming days. Overall repairs needed for the turbine’s permanent operation are on track for completion later this summer or fall, he said.
Kevin Winston – head of corporate communications for the parent Applied Materials, which is based in Santa Clara, California – had indicated in April that the company was committed to making the Gloucester turbine fully operational within six months.
Johnson said the turbine’s test runs began Tuesday and will continue as conditions allow.
“It’s just been a good couple of days to start it because of the low wind speed,” Johnson said.
The 479-foot turbine on the Applied/Varian property is the tallest of three turbines in Gloucester and was the first to be installed in the industrial park in late 2012. The other two, located on the Davis-Standard/Gloucester Engineering property, operate under a shared plan that generates power and financial credits for the city of Gloucester; those have continued to operate since they first started spinning in January 2013.
Winston said the Applied/Varian turbine, which generates 2.5 megawatts of power, had improved the company’s on-site renewable energy generation by newly 20 percent and provided the company with more than $1 million in annual net savings before it had to be shut down.