DOE Backs National Wind Power Expansion

Well, everyone expected some major announcements from wind power industry leaders at this year’s Global Windpower 2004, the industry’s major annual conference taking wrapping up in Chicago, but a major announcement from the Federal Government? No they didn’t surprise everyone with a reinstated PTC, but they did unveil efforts towards increasing the use of wind power in the U.S. that could top US$60 million over the next four years.

Chicago, Illinois – April 1, 2004 [] And if you think these new wind projects will be strategically situated in areas with the best wind resources, you would be wrong. They see areas of lower wind speed as a whole new realm for potential wind development. The Department of Energy (DOE) will open negotiations for 21 public-private partnerships to greatly expand potential U.S. wind development through advances in cost effective low wind speed technology. “The nation’s vast wind energy resources can play a much larger role in our energy supply portfolio,” said DOE Deputy Secretary of Energy Kyle McSlarrow. “These industry and university partnerships will help develop next generation wind technology and open the door to wind power at many locations around the country that otherwise would not be cost-competitive.” Much of the commercial wind power development has occurred to date at high wind sites, in other words the “best” wind sites. However, many of these sites are located in remote areas that do not have ready access to transmission lines. Moreover, easily accessible prime high wind sites are becoming limited. The DOE’s National Energy Plan specifically cited low wind speed technology as an opportunity to significantly expand use of wind energy. The new low wind speed projects will focus on technology improvements for making more widespread low wind speed sites cost competitive with high wind sites. Efforts include new R&D projects targeting multi-megawatt scale components and turbine systems for land, as well as offshore applications. The new partnerships are being launched under a three phase technology development project aimed at the department’s goal of reducing wind powered electricity generation costs at low speed sites (annual average wind speeds of approximately 13 miles per hour, measured at a height of 10 meters) to 3 cents per kWh. This comprehensive program includes: 1) conceptual design studies to explore new configurations and design approaches; 2) component developments for inclusion in next generation designs or existing machines; and 3) full system developments incorporating the best of proposed innovations. The 21 new partnerships announced at the wind power conference were selected under the second phase of this project, and the selected companies will plan to share 50 percent of the project costs overall. The selected project partners are from more than 10 different states and include: Clipper Windpower Technology (Carpinteria, Calif.), General Electric Global Research (Niskayuna, N.Y.), Global Energy Concepts (Kirkland, Wash.), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.), Native American Technologies (Lakewood, Colo.), Northern Power Systems (Waitsfield, Vt.), Tennessee Valley Infrastructure Group (Chattanooga, Tenn.), and Valmont Industries (Omaha, Neb.). There are also a number of subcontracts currently slated for negotiation listed at the link below
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