Spring is about change, and there’s no exception here at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO). First, a quick look back before we spring into the future.

WETO published a retrospective on 2021 wind energy research and development—which includes notable achievements across all types of wind energy research, grid integration, environmental research, siting, and workforce development. It’s a critical read to learn about our most impactful R&D accomplishments last year.


In early March, Dr. Bob Marlay announced his retirement as WETO Director, capping off a 53-year career in the federal government. Bob is also a retired Rear Admiral, Civil Engineer Corps, U.S. Navy.  He served 16 administrations and held multiple leadership roles in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), including almost 4 years as WETO Director.

Bob’s accomplishments at DOE include leadership positions in national security, energy, scientific research, climate, and international affairs. He received the Presidential Rank Award and served as an ambassador and champion for the Women in Clean Energy Education and Empowerment initiative.

Bob served our nation with honor and integrity and demonstrated tremendous commitment and professionalism throughout his career. I can’t thank Bob enough for his leadership during his time at WETO.

We also said farewell this year to another powerhouse in the federal government’s stable of wind energy career scientists. Dr. Will Shaw retired earlier this year from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). This newsletter includes an article about his legacy of bringing the atmospheric sciences to wind energy research.

Wind Research Today—and Tomorrow

This issue of our newsletter provides additional information about R&D wind energy projects from our national laboratories and industry partners. You’ll learn about:

  • Distributed Wind Energy Futures Study—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a comprehensive analysis of potential opportunities for widespread U.S. distributed wind deployment by 2035. The study uses new, high-resolution data and modeling techniques to identify the best locations for distributed wind, revealing hundreds of gigawatts of potential.
  • Shadow flicker research—A new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory-led study published in Energy Research and Social Science examines the relationship between the amount of exposure to the moving shadows caused by wind turbines and the annoyance the shadows cause.
  • St. Mary’s Alaska distributed wind valuation study—A research team from PNNL and Sandia National Laboratories studied the value of distributed wind energy in remote Alaska and found that standalone wind turbines could result in significant benefits. Avoided diesel costs alone could amount to $5.3 million.
  • Wind as a grid stabilizer—General Electric (GE) and NREL demonstrated how a common type of wind turbine can jump-start the grid during a blackout or operate without power from the electric grid.
  • The American WAKE experimeNt (AWAKEN) atmospheric mapping project—AWAKEN recently began a massive data collection effort that will help wind farms worldwide strategically increase their energy production.
  • And more! This newsletter is packed with wind energy R&D information.

We’re all excited to see DOE’s 2022 Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) taking place live and in-person during CLEANPOWER. The competition challenges interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate students to work on a wind energy project, providing each student real-world experience to prepare for the wind industry workforce. If you’re attending CLEANPOWER 2022, you can observe the competition—in whole or part—by making your way to the competition area located in the exhibit hall. CWC always provides an eye-opening look into the future of wind energy through the tremendous efforts of these talented competitors.

At WETO, it is our privilege to work toward advancing wind energy technologies and R&D. I will do my best to keep the wind turbines turning while a new director is chosen to lead. In the meantime, thank you in advance for your support—if you’re at CLEANPOWER 2022, and be sure to stop by our exhibit booth (#807) and say hello.

Headshot of Jim Ahlgrimm in a suit.



Jim Ahlgrimm
Acting Director, Wind Energy Technologies Office

Spring 2022 R&D Newsletter

Explore previous editions of the Wind R&D Newsletter or browse articles by topic: