Letter from the Wind Energy Technologies Office Director


This spring edition of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Research & Development Newsletter comes on the heels of a milestone year for the wind industry. In 2016, the industry surpassed 82,000 megawatts of total installed capacity to make wind the number-one source of renewable generation capacity in the United States. In December 2016, developer Deepwater Wind began operating America’s first offshore wind farm: the Block Island Wind Farm, a five-turbine, 30-megawatt project located off Rhode Island. The Amazon Wind Farm—North Carolina’s first utility-scale wind project—came on line in February 2017, bringing the number of states with utility-scale wind power installations to 41.

We’re also excited by the future leaders of the wind industry. Last month, Penn State took home their third Collegiate Wind Competition prize by winning the 2017 Collegiate Wind Competition Technical Challenge, hosted at the National Wind Technology Center outside Boulder, Colorado.

This year, the Wind Energy Technologies Office celebrated the 2-year anniversary of DOE’s historic Wind Vision Report, which quantified the economic, environmental, and social benefits of a future where wind powers up to 35% of the nation’s electrical demand by 2050. Guided by the Wind Vision, DOE’s investments support energy science research and development activities that enable technological innovation to improve the performance and lower the cost of wind energy technologies.

In just 2 years, DOE has supported a number of projects making dramatic progress toward this goal, including deploying two research buoys that measure weather and oceanographic data; funding the Hexcrete Tower, which uses prefabricated concrete components to develop a taller turbine tower; and utilizing 3-D printing for the fabrication of wind turbine blade molds.

One new example of innovation being explored by the Energy Department is self-flying drones, which can quickly inspect an entire field of wind turbines in minutes—a process that, when done manually, can take months. SkySpecs, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based startup, designed autonomous drones programmed with an advanced damage-identification system that captures high-quality images, detects wind turbine cracks, and collects valuable data about turbine damage and defects.

Under the Atmosphere to Electrons research initiative, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are conducting experiments in yaw-based wake steering control strategies. Wind plants sacrifice up to 20% of their gross energy to wake losses, or weaker, turbulent winds created by upstream turbines. Yaw-based wake steering can turn upstream turbines away from the
wind inflow, decreasing the overall efficiency loss.

Finally, if you want to learn more about the Wind Energy Technologies Office’s research and development project portfolio, visit our new interactive map.

Thank you for joining me in celebrating the accomplishments we’re making together to promote the power of wind.

José Zayas

Wind Energy Technologies Office Director
U.S. Department of Energy