DOE-Funded Program Will Build on 10 years of Successful Innovation

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP), DOE’s flagship program to reduce costs and improve technology for small and medium-sized wind turbines less than 1 megawatt in capacity.

“Through the Competitiveness Improvement Project, DOE continues to lower costs of reliable distributed wind technology,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “For ten years, this program has helped reduce the installed costs and improved performance of wind turbines used by homeowners, farmers, businesses and others. And now, we’re aiming even higher to support innovative distributed wind concepts that will accelerate the pathways to market adoption.”

Managed by NREL on behalf of DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, CIP awards cost-shared subcontracts and technical support to make distributed wind energy technologies more cost competitive and reliable. The 2022 RFP includes a new topic area that invites manufacturers to propose solutions focused on developing markets for new products or new markets for existing products.

Since its inception in 2012 the CIP has awarded 52 subcontracts to 25 companies across the United States, totaling $12.4 million of DOE funding while leveraging $6.4 million in additional private sector investment.

Over that time, CIP has helped more than two dozen small businesses across the United States to develop new and innovative distributed wind energy technology. CIP projects have led to distributed wind energy becoming more cost competitive, improved its interoperability with other distributed energy resources, and increased the number of small and mid-scale wind turbine designs tested to national standards.

Exemplifying CIP’s impact on the U.S. distributed wind energy industry:

  • Bergey Windpower (in Norman, Oklahoma) developed and achieved certification through third-party verified testing for safety, function, performance, and durability for the Bergey Excel 15 wind turbine, which has reduced the cost of energy by 50% compared to the Bergey Excel 10 wind turbine.
  • Intergrid LLC (in Temple, New Hampshire) created a modular power inverter for wind turbines under 25 kilowatts (kW) to meet updated grid integration requirements and fill a distributed wind energy industry gap by delivering an interconnection-code-compliant inverter designed for compatibility with other distributed energy technologies.
  • Pecos Wind Power (in Somerville, Massachusetts) prototyped a new 85-kW wind turbine engineered specifically for the U.S. distributed generation market, resulting in an expected cost of energy 55% lower than comparable installations.
  • Primus Windpower (in Lakewood, Colorado) achieved turbine certification on two of their turbine models.
  • Carter Wind Turbines (in Wichita Falls, Texas) modernized their 300-kW turbine with a new rotor design for increased energy production in lower wind speeds, and developed controls and power electronics to integrate battery storage and provide enhanced resiliency through emergency backup power.
  • QED Wind Power (in Tucson, Arizona) initiated field testing, certification, and electrical safety listing of their 20-kW turbine, which can integrate into existing grid infrastructure or operate off-grid in isolated communities.
  • Eocycle America (in Stowe, Vermont) advanced their 100-kW M-series with a new optimized rotor design for maximum yield at sites with low to medium wind speeds and integrated storage to provide resiliency and grid stability enhancement.

The 2022 RFP focuses on projects that:

  • Develop new, innovative distributed wind energy concepts
  • Transform and optimize existing designs for lower cost, increased energy production, or expanded capabilities, such as advanced grid support to enhance power system resiliency
  • Conduct wind turbine and component testing to national standards to verify performance and safety
  • Create advanced manufacturing processes to reduce hardware costs
  • Accelerate pathways to commercialization.

The RFP includes cost-share requirements, and proposals must provide evidence of technical readiness, incorporation in the United States, strong team skills and capabilities, and financial information. Work funded under this effort is expected to take place in the United States and/or U.S. Territories, unless otherwise justified.

Applications will be accepted through April 1, 2022.

To view the CIP RFP and find additional background, visit the CIP project website.