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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with funding from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office, works with dozens of small business across the United States to enable wind technology as a distributed energy resource through the Competitiveness Improvement Project. The goals of the CIP are to make distributed wind energy cost competitive, improve its interoperability with other distributed energy resources, and increase the number of small and mid-scale wind turbine designs certified to national testing standards.

Launched in 2013, the CIP supports manufacturers of distributed wind turbines—typically small businesses—through competitively-awarded, cost-shared funding to 1) optimize their designs for increased energy production and grid support, 2) test turbines and components to national standards to verify performance and safety, and 3) develop advanced manufacturing processes to reduce hardware costs. Beyond funding support, awardees can receive technical assistance from NREL to improve their turbine designs and testing plans. Since 2013, NREL has awarded 36 subcontracts to 20 companies, totaling $7.75 million of investment while leveraging $3.79 million in additional private-sector funding.

Prior CIP Awardee Successes

Bergey Windpower, a leading American manufacturer of small wind turbines for residential and commercial applications, has made large strides thanks to support from the CIP, including development of an innovative new product—the Excel 15 wind turbine. This turbine increases power output by 110% while reducing the overall cost of energy by more than 50% compared to Bergey’s legacy Excel 10 turbine. Most recently, under CIP contracts, Bergey completed the certification of this turbine and continues to work on projects aimed at reducing the installation costs. Read more about this success. Similarly, Primus Wind Power, a leader in watt-scale wind turbines in the United States, recently completed final certification approval of their bestselling Air30, a micro turbine model designed for deployment in isolated locations, commonly in hybrid applications with solar photovoltaics.

2019 CIP Awardees

The following projects were selected from the most recent CIP solicitation, with a strong focus on supporting the early assessment of new innovative designs through pre-prototype development support:

  • Bergey Windpower (Norman, Oklahoma) will develop a rapidly deployable microgrid system based around their 15 kW turbine, combined with battery storage and diesel generation, and configured to fit in a shipping container for transport and installation in U.S. Department of Defense forward operating bases and disaster relief applications.
  • Ducted Wind Turbines (Potsdam, New York) will advance the pre-prototype design of their new ducted 3-kW wind system, including a detailed technical review of their preliminary design and initial testing results.
  • Primus Wind Power (Lakewood, Colorado) will develop a next-generation controller that will improve performance and reliability, reduce noise, and lower overall costs for their popular 160-watt Air Breeze Turbine.
  • QED Wind Power (Tucson, Arizona) will support the certification of their 20-kW horizontal axis wind generator.
  • Sonsight Wind (Grayson, Georgia) will optimize their 3.5-kW wind turbine system with a focus on developing improved controls that will increase energy production and improve turbine power regulation, while reducing overall systems costs.
  • Westergaard Solutions (Houston, Texas) will implement an innovative building-integrated wind generation concept with no external moving parts, moving from a preliminary conceptual design to a pre-production prototype design that is ready for testing.
  • Windward Engineering (Spanish Fork, Utah) will develop a preliminary design and test prototypes of some critical components for a new, low-cost 50-kW turbine designed for distributed deployment.
  • Xflow Energy (Seattle, Washington) will move its 20-kW vertical axis wind turbine, which was designed specifically for remote microgrid applications, from a preliminary design to a test-ready, pre-production prototype.

2020 CIP Workshop

For those interested in the CIP, NREL will host a workshop at the NREL Flatirons Campus outside of Boulder, Colorado on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, with remote attendance available via webinar. The workshop will review common topics of previous CIP solicitations, merit criteria, design evaluation requirements, and testing and certification standards. The workshop will also afford attendees an opportunity to share the technical challenges and opportunities they are considering, and meet with other members of the distributed wind community.