World : Distributed Wind Turbine Makers Bolstered by Energy Department Grants

The Energy Department recently awarded $1.5 million to six companies working to slash the cost of distributed wind power.

In the race to cut costs, small wind turbines have fallen behind rooftop solar and other distributed energy technologies. After throwing a lot of support behind solar and industrial-scale wind in recent years, the Energy Department is turning its attention to the smaller players in wind.

Earlier this month, DOE announced the winners of the fifth round of a grant program intended to help reduce the cost of electricity generated by small and medium-sized wind turbines.

Six companies were awarded cost-shared contracts totaling $1.49 million by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Here is the complete list of Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP) grant recipients, from the DOE press release.

  • Bergey Windpower Company of Norman, Oklahoma will seek to reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from its small wind turbine 11 percent by developing a standardized 30-meter self-supporting lattice tower with a foundation that does not require concrete. Bergey will also improve its cable and electronics design to reduce installation costs of the Bergey Excel 15 wind turbine system.
  • Intergrid of Temple, New Hampshire will seek to reduce LCOE 11 percent by integrating and certifying the many turbine electrical and control components required for a complete wind turbine installation into a "1-box" approach, while adding an energy storage option for wind turbines with a power rating up to 20 kilowatts.
  • Northern Power Systems of Barre, Vermont will seek to reduce LCOE 14 percent by developing a larger rotor design, expanding from 24 to 32 meters in diameter, for the flagship NPS 100 wind turbine system. R&D efforts will include detailed tradeoff studies and analysis evaluating impacts on the whole rotor, control system, and drivetrain due to the increase in rotor size.
  • SonSight Wind of Grayson, Georgia will conduct prototype testing of its low-wind-speed 3 kW wind turbine design. Efforts will focus on improving power performance and safety and function testing, as well as control system testing for optimization of its advanced furling design, which regulates how the turbine operates in high winds.
  • Star Wind Turbines LLC of East Dorset, Vermont will test its 5-bladed, 10 kW wind turbine system design to national performance and safety standards with the goal of achieving product certification and verifying its levelized cost projections.
  • Xzeres Wind Corp of Portland, Oregon will seek to reduce LCOE by over 25 percent by developing a microgrid-compatible turbine controller engineered for increased performance and integration with emerging distributed energy resource technologies. The components of the next-generation controller system will be consolidated into a single enclosure for ease of installation and reduced labor costs. 

The latest DOE distributed wind market report highlighted some bright spots for the industry. By the end of 2016, the installed capacity of small wind turbines (up to 100 kilowatts) nationwide was just under 1 gigawatt. U.S. manufacturers continue to dominate domestic sales of small wind turbines, and the export market is strong. Between 2014 and 2016, U.S.-based manufacturers exported more than $240 million in small wind turbines.


Source :

Smart Grid Bulletin February 2019

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