The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have released phase I findings for the WETO-funded Big Adaptive Rotor (BAR) project. The BAR project identifies novel technologies that can enable large (up to 100 m) blades for low-specific-power land-based wind turbines. Low-specific-power turbines improve power performance in lower wind conditions and deliver power during more hours in the day.

Phase I work focused on assessing how low-specific-power turbine designs might help reduce levelized cost of energy and what solutions are needed to overcome technical and logistical challenges to achieve those cost goals. The research included assessing the historical trends of low-specific-power land-based wind deployments, analyzing and designing rotor technologies for very large land-based turbines, and developing and researching optimized carbon-fiber materials.

Among other findings, the phase I analysis showed that there is significant value for low-specific-power turbines, especially in markets where there is a higher saturation of wind energy on the electric grid. In phase II, the research team will increase the technology readiness levels of the most promising concepts identified in phase I. This will be done through experimentation, model development, and model validation.