Massachusetts and Texas Final Competitors for DOE Wind Research Award

Massachusetts and Texas are the two finalists from the six applications received from partnerships in Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia, for the cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) opportunity to build an advanced wind turbine blade test facility announced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in May 2006 on behalf of the Department of Energy.

The applications were scored by a technical panel comprised of DOE National Laboratory experts in conjunction with input from DOE Wind Program experts and wind industry representatives. The CRADA sought government, private, or nonprofit partners to design, construct, and assist in operating one or more wind turbine blade test facilities capable of testing blades up to at least 70 meters (230 feet) in length. Rapid growth in wind turbine size over the past two decades has outstripped the existing capabilities of NREL’s National Wind Technology Center, which operates the only blade test facility in North America capable of performing full-scale testing of megawatt-scale wind turbine blades. The opportunity was created to support the U.S. wind industry’s development and the deployment of large wind turbines by providing testing capabilities of sufficient size and availability at a reasonable cost to the users. 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. The partners submitting the Massachusetts application include the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), University of Massachusetts (UMass), and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Development (EOED). MTC administers the Renewable Energy Trust (RET). The University of Massachusetts (Amherst) through its Renewable Energy Research Laboratory (RERL) is the premier graduate wind-engineering program in the US. The Division of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD) are part of EOED. In Texas, the Lone Star Wind Alliance is led by the University of Houston and the Texas General Land Office and possesses world-leading research centers on large composite structures, wind engineering, electromechanical controls and power electronics. The Alliance includes Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of Texas-Austin, West Texas A&M University, Montana State University, Stanford University, New Mexico State University, Old Dominion University and the Houston Advanced Research Center.

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