The Energy Department today announced six new contracts totaling $1.49 million awarded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory under the DOE-funded Distributed Wind Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP). Since 2013, the CIP has awarded 22 competitively-selected, cost-shared contracts to 12 different manufacturers and component suppliers for small and medium-sized wind turbine designs. Through five rounds of CIP, DOE has invested more than $5 million. Combined with awardee cost share, CIP-facilitated technology research and development investment totals over $8 million. These distributed wind investments have yielded numerous cost and efficiency improvements, including new small wind turbine designs, quieter and more efficient rotors, injection-molded carbon fiber blades, and power inverters optimized for distributed wind systems.

The goals of CIP are to make wind energy from small and medium-sized turbines cost competitive with other distributed generation technologies, and increase the number of wind turbine designs certified to national safety and performance standards. CIP research efforts aim to reduce hardware costs through advanced manufacturing processes to increase system performance through design optimization, and to conduct turbine testing for certification of system performance and safety. CIP Round 5 contracts were awarded to the following U.S. distributed wind manufacturers and component suppliers:

  • Bergey Windpower Company of Norman, Oklahoma will seek to reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from its small wind turbine 11% 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% 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 (kW).
  • Northern Power Systems of Barre, Vermont will seek to reduce LCOE 14% 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 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 verify their levelized cost projections.
  • Xzeres Wind Corp of Portland, Oregon will seek to reduce LCOE by over 25% 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.  

For the next round of the Competitiveness Improvement Project for distributed wind, on October 12 NREL announced its intention to conduct Round 6 of the CIP request for proposals (RFP), and will host a CIP-focused workshop at the National Wind Technology Center in Colorado on Wednesday, December 6.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and to strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.