The proposed fiscal year 2003 Department of Energy (DOE) budget presented earlier this week increases funding for wind energy systems by more than US$5 million to US$44 million.WASHINGTON, D.C. (US) 2002-02-12 [SolarAccess.com] The budget acknowledges the reduced cost of electricity generated from wind in the past 20 years and its place as “the fasted growing energy supply source in the United States and worldwide.” Up from US$38.5 million in FY 2002, the budget calls for increased research and development of wind turbines that can “operate cost competitively in areas with moderate (class 3 and 4) wind speeds.” Jon Chase, Asst. Director for Legislative Affairs with the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, D.C., said his group is pleased with the increase in funding for the industry and that low speed wind turbine research is a practical direction to pursue. “It’s certainly a program that has merit,” Chase said. “If the technology can improve putting wind turbines into lower speed sites, near transmission lines, I think that benefits this industry.” The budget sets aggressive goals for increases in U.S. installed wind energy capacity by 11,000 MW in 2010 and by 45,000 MW in 2020. Mike Bergey, president and CEO of Bergey Windpower, Co., in Norman, Oklahoma agrees that low speed wind turbine development is a good direction for the industry but warns that advances will depend on significant innovations in the design of “less robust” wind turbines. “Concentrating on lower average wind speed areas greatly increases the areas where wind turbines can be put to work, Bergey said. “Lightweight wind turbines have historically been relatively fragile and short-lived–even when designed by very clever engineers. So, we will need to advance the art and science of less robust wind turbines-a chore not to be underestimated.” Also included in the budget are goals to reduce the cost of wind powered electricity generation in class 4 wind areas (13 mph annual average) from 5.5 cents per kWh in 2002 to 3 cents per kWh by 2010. In FY 2002, the DOE has been preparing an improved resolution national wind resource atlas, which would first focus on new maps for high priority regions for commercial wind energy projects. In FY 2003, the DOE proposes completing low speed wind turbine designs and beginning testing. Within the Wind Energy Systems budget, funding was eliminated for WindPACT, avian research, next generation turbine (transferred to low wind speed technology), cold weather turbine and certification.