The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the selection of 109 new projects across 27 states, totaling nearly $21.8 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research and development programs. Small businesses play a major role in spurring innovation and creating jobs in the U.S. economy, and the SBIR and STTR programs have helped thousands of American small businesses and entrepreneurs develop a range of cutting-edge technologies to help accelerate the nation’s transition to a clean energy economy.

Through the SBIR and STTR programs, the Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) supports small business projects that drive innovation through research, development, and testing of advanced wind energy technologies. WETO selected seven projects for funding from the following topics:

Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance:

  • Intelligent Fiber Optic Systems Corporation of San Jose, CA will develop a monitoring system for wind turbines using artificial intelligence to optimize wind turbine performance and reliability, as well as allow for more cost-effective maintenance.
  • International Electronic Machines Corporation of Troy, NY will develop a low-profile aerodynamic sensor tape for offshore wind turbine blade monitoring.  The distribution of air pressure on a wind turbine blade determines how efficiently the turbine performs, but current pressure profile technology is prohibitively expensive and difficult to apply to wind turbines. The tape will allow pressure profiling, and other sensor monitoring, of wind turbines to be installed in minutes and operate for the lifetime of the turbine blades. The data collected from monitoring could help turbine operators increase efficiency and safety, and reduce maintenance costs.
  • Luna Innovations Incorporated of Roanoke, VA will develop a comprehensive health monitoring system for wind turbines to reduce the cost of owning and operating offshore wind farms, thereby reducing the cost of energy for consumers.
  • Otherlab of San Francisco, CA will develop a mooring connector for unmanned floating offshore wind turbine platform hook-up and disconnection. Currently, the operation to connect and disconnect floating wind turbines to their mooring system is costly, lengthy, and cumbersome, requiring machinery and personnel to be transferred to the platform. If successful, the project will reduce installation costs and hook-up time by up to 50%.
  • Persimia, LLC of Atlanta, GA will develop a unique autonomous robot that combines drone and robotic crawler technologies to allow wind turbine blades to be repaired autonomously, reducing operations and maintenance costs.

Innovative Solutions to Wind Transmission Interconnection and Wind Cybersecurity Challenges:

  • Makai Ocean Engineering, Inc. of Honolulu, HI will develop a software tool to automatically generate power cable routes and sub-station upgrades to reduce the time and costs of commissioning for renewable energy generation. The software will also estimate the system costs for the transmission lines and sub-station feeders.

Technology Solutions for Advancing Ocean Co-Existence and Co-Use with Marine Energy and Communities

  • VinciVR, Inc. of Boston, MA will explore using virtual reality to help coastal communities understand offshore wind projects, and recruit and train local workforce for these projects.

The SBIR and STTR programs were created by Congress to leverage small businesses to advance innovation at federal agencies. Information on the DOE SBIR and STTR programs is available on the Office of Science SBIR website.