Project Development, Wind Power

US House Passes US $1B Wind R&D Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009, a bill that would a program to improve the efficiency, reliability and cost effectiveness of domestic wind energy systems. The bill (H.R. 3165) was sponsored by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY 21) and passed with bipartisan support in a voice vote.

The bill requires the Secretary of Energy to carry out a US $1 billion program of research and development to improve the energy efficiency, reliability, and capacity of wind turbines. In order to accomplish this goal, DOE will work with wind companies to optimize the design and adaptability of their systems, as well as reduce the cost of construction, generation, and maintenance of wind energy systems.

Specifically, this program would include:

  • Examination of new materials and designs to make larger, lighter, less expensive, and more reliable motor blades
  • Development of technologies to improve gearbox performance and reliability
  • Work to develop low-cost transportable towers greater than 100 meters in height
  • Examination of advanced computational modeling tools, control systems and blade sensors
  • Further developing methods to assess and mitigate the effects of wind energy systems on radar and electromagnetic fields
  • Developing technologies to improve transmission from remotely located wind farms

The bill would also create a demonstration program to measure wind energy performance that would include the full range of wind conditions across the country. That data would be then used as part of the research and development program. It also requires that the demonstration programs be conducted in collaboration with private industry.

The bill authorizes $200 million dollars per year from 2010 through 2014 for these programs.