Project Development, Utility Scale

DOE to Invest up to $4 M for Wind Turbine Blade Testing Facilities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced June 25 that DOE has selected the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership in Massachusetts, and the Lone Star Wind Alliance in Texas, to each receive up to $2 million in test equipment to develop large-scale wind blade test facilities.

These consortia have been selected to negotiate cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) to design, build, and operate new facilities to test the next generation of wind turbine blades.

Facilities are expected to be operational in 2009. The funds are expected to accelerate the commercial availability of wind energy. Blade testing is required to meet wind turbine design standards, reduce machine cost, and reduce the technical and financial risk of deploying mass-produced wind turbine models.

“These two testing facilities represent an important next step in the expansion of competitiveness of the U.S. domestic wind energy industry,” Secretary Bodman said, while hosting a press conference with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. “We congratulate Massachusetts and Texas for their outstanding proposals and we believe this work will build upon the Administration’s goal of prompting states to research, develop and deploy more clean energy technologies.”

The states’ consortia were selected to enter into agreements with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to build facilities to test large wind blades, with an ultimate goal of testing blades up to 330 ft. (100m) in length. NREL will work with states to provide equipment and technical assistance for development and operation.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership has pledged $13 million in grants and loans for construction and startup costs, and has established reserve funding of $5 million for future blade design research and testing. The Lone Star Wind Alliance has pledged approximately $18 million from state and private sources for initial capital and startup costs.