U.S. Department of Energy awards $28 million in funding for offshore wind research

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced up to $28 million in funding for research and development of new offshore wind energy technologies. A total of 13 projects will each receive a share in the funding.

Utility-scale, land-based wind energy in the U.S. has grown to 96 GW, but according to DOE, significant opportunities for cost reductions remain, especially in the areas of offshore wind, distributed wind and tall wind.

The funding selections were announced by DOE’s Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Daniel R Simmons, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference. “These projects will be instrumental in driving down technology costs and increasing consumer options for wind across the United States as part of our comprehensive energy portfolio,” he said.

Four Wind Innovations for Rural Economic Development (WIRED) projects will receive a total of $6 million in federal funding to support rural electric utilities by developing technology to integrate wind with other distributed energy resources and by simplifying distributed wind energy project development through standardized solutions and technical assistance.

  • Bergey WindPower of Norman, Okla., will develop a standardized distributed wind/battery/generator micro-grid system that rural utilities can provide to homes and businesses to deliver resilience, energy savings and reliable power.
  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) of Palo Alto, Calif., will develop novel modelling, planning and operation methods for deploying and operating wind energy and battery storage technologies that allow increased wind energy while maintaining rural grid reliability.
  • Iowa State University of Ames, Iowa, will design optimization models and control algorithms that help rural utilities leverage distributed wind in coordination with other distributed energy resources such as battery storage and solar PV.
  • The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association of Arlington, Va., will provide technical assistance and develop standardized wind engineering solutions, metrics, case studies, best practices, and finance models to help rural cooperatives cost-effectively adopt distributed wind.

Six projects will receive a total of $7 million to conduct testing in support of innovative offshore wind research and development utilizing existing national-level testing facilities. Two of these projects involve upgrades to the facilities.

  • Clemson University of North Charleston, S.C., will improve offshore-scale wind turbine nacelle testing through a hardware-in-the-loop capability enabling concurrent mechanical, electrical, and controller testing on the 7.5-MW dynamometer at its Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility.
  • Lehigh University of Bethlehem, Pa., will upgrade its soil-foundation interaction laboratory to combine computer simulation with physical testing to model impacts of wind, waves, currents, and other factors on offshore wind turbine structures.
  • The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in Boston, Mass., will upgrade its Wind Technology Testing Center to enable structural testing of 85- to 120-m-long blades.
  • Oregon State University of Corvallis, Ore., will use numerical models to simulate the combined effects of wind and waves on floating offshore wind turbines in a wave basin.
  • Tufts University of Medford, Mass., will quantify the effects of fatigue on the stiffness, strength and durability of marine concrete mixtures to facilitate the development of cost-effective, resilient concrete offshore wind support structures.
  • The University of Massachusetts–Lowell will develop and validate a novel autonomous method of using measured acoustic pressure to detect degradation and damage in wind turbine blades.

Two offshore wind technology demonstration projects will receive up to a total of $10 million to conduct additional project development activities that enable demonstration of innovative technologies or methodologies to reduce offshore wind energy risk and cost.

  • The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, will use state-of-the-art sensing technologies to characterize the activity of birds near their project site in Lake Erie.
  • The University of Maine at Orono will develop an alternative floating substructure design for a 10-MW to 12-MW wind turbine in place of the currently planned two 6-MW turbines floating offshore wind demonstration project planned for deployment off Monhegan Island, Maine.

One project will receive up to $5 million to validate manufacturing innovations and demonstrate cost-effective tall tower technology that can overcome transportation constraints hindering tall tower installations.

  • Keystone Tower Systems of Westminster, Colo., will demonstrate on-site spiral welding of a 160-m-tall wind turbine tower, as well as installation of up-tower components with a tower-mounted self-hoisting crane.
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