In June, the Department of Energy announced awards totaling nearly $7.5 million to companies and research institutions working to develop the next generation of advanced wind turbine drivetrain designs. Some of the new designs will focus on reducing the cost of energy by increasing component reliability or by reducing the number of components. For example, direct-drive generators eliminate the need for a gearbox, which reduces weight, eliminates moving parts, and reduces maintenance costs. Other designs focus on increasing the amount of energy drivetrains produce or will minimize the use of rare-earth materials.
The companies selected for awards are Advanced Magnet Lab in Palm Bay, Florida; Boulder Wind Power in Boulder, Colorado; Clipper Windpower in Carpinteria, California; Eaton Corporation in Cleveland, Ohio; GE Global Research in Niskayuna, New York; and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Each company will receive up to $700,000 to conduct technology cost and readiness assessments during the first six-month funding period. Several of the companies will then be selected to receive an additional $2 million each to conduct follow-on performance tests on their new designs.