The Energy Department’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) invests in applied energy science research and development (R&D) activities that enable industry technological innovation and deployment. While some of these investments are targeted at a specific sector, many of them are relevant across all wind applications: land-based utility-scale, offshore, and distributed wind. These activities are conducted in partnership with the academic community, national laboratories, and industry, and are aimed at improving performance, lowering costs, and reducing market barriers for U.S. wind energy.
Wind Resource Characterization and Plant Optimization
The Atmosphere to Electrons (A2e) initiative will play a major role in optimizing wind plant systems that produce more power and need less maintenance, leading to the wind plant of the future—a collection of intelligent and innovative machines operating in a highly coordinated way.
- Measure and characterize domestic wind energy resources for both land-based and offshore wind energy systems
- Improve the understanding of wind farm design conditions and complex aerodynamics
- Leverage the high-performance computing (HPC) abilities at the national laboratories to model the complexity of the atmosphere and wind plant flow physics, and enable industry to take the next steps in developing both evolutionary and transformational technologies
- Improve the reliability of wind plant systems that address the complex dynamics of winds created by turbulent weather, variable terrain, and rotor wakes
- Develop and validate open-source design tools for evaluating new concepts and enabling industry innovation in next-generation wind turbine designs.
Wind Component and System Research, Development, and Testing
- Partner with industry, universities, and national laboratories on aerodynamic, structural and electrical test centers for wind plants, wind turbines, rotor blades, and drivetrains
- Investigate new drivetrain configurations that weigh less and have higher efficiency than current designs and are installed on taller towers that can access the stronger wind resources at greater heights
- Conduct research needed to address U.S.-specific offshore wind challenges such as deep water, weak soils, and hurricanes
- Enable industry to meet performance and safety standards by establishing frameworks for small wind turbine certification
- Participate in the development of national and international wind energy standards.
Market Barrier Mitigation
- Conduct research aimed at understanding and mitigating the impacts of wind energy on bird, bat, marine, and insect species and their habitats
- Investigate and mitigate potential impacts of wind energy on society, including auditory, visual, radar, and competitive-use impacts
- Understand critical wind integration challenges related to electricity supply and demand, wind forecasting, wind speed variability, and cyber security
- Develop solutions and best practices for wind energy grid integration
- Provide independent cost of energy analyses, economic assessments, and market information publications
- Use the WINDExchange platform to help communities weigh the benefits and costs of wind energy, understand the deployment process, and make wind development decisions supported by fact-based, relevant, and actionable information.