Offshore, Project Development, Utility Scale, Wind Power

DOE Awards US $25M for Massachusetts Wind Technology Testing Center

This week, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Governor Deval Patrick announced the Department of Energy’s intent to award Massachusetts US $25 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to accelerate development of the state’s Wind Technology Testing Center.

The new center will test commercial-sized wind turbine blades to help reduce cost, improve technical advancements, and speed deployment of the next generation of wind turbine blades into the marketplace.

“This is part of President Obama’s broad agenda to make sure that our country leads the world in capturing the clean energy jobs of the future,” Secretary Chu said. “As the world moves toward a significant expansion in wind power, the test blade facility will help make sure that the best, most efficient wind turbines are built right here in America. Not only will it create jobs and help us achieve energy independence, it will mean cleaner air, cleaner water, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.”

When selecting Massachusetts for this facility in June 2007, the Department of Energy pledged $2 million for the project. Since then, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust has committed $13.2 million in grants and loans for design and initial development expenses, working capital, and first year operating expenses.

With the Recovery Act funding announced today, construction of the facility can begin in September, and will be complete by the end of 2010. The state is now concluding the final design for the testing center, while DOE completes the environmental review and public consultation process.

Once finished, the center will be the first commercial large blade test facility in the nation, allowing for testing of blades longer than 50 meters, which currently can be done in Europe but not in the United States.

More research and development into longer blades will quicken the creation of large-scale offshore wind power facilities. The facility will attract companies to design, manufacture, and test their blades in the United States. It will also promote the growth of American companies who are part of the supply chain for wind turbine production—including fiber glass distributors, advanced composite materials manufacturers, and others.

In addition to this announcement, Massachusetts-based companies have been selected to receive approximately $1 million in additional wind funding under a competitive funding opportunity announcement to address market and deployment challenges identified in DOE’s 2008 report: “20% Wind Energy by 2030.” Award amounts listed below are subject to negotiation: