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The biannual U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Research and Development (R&D) Newsletter provides recent news about the DOE Wind Energy Technologies Office's R&D projects, news, accomplishments, and recent publications.

Letter from the Wind Energy Technologies Office Director, Robert C. Marlay

The U.S. wind energy industry continues its impressive run of growth over the last two decades. In late 2019, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that wind energy had become the number-one renewable electricity generation source in the country. This achievement, of course, may be attributed to the collective effort of many important players, including state and local officials, industry and investors, policy and regulatory officials, and other stakeholders.

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Current Research & Development

New Reference Turbine Model Accelerates Development of Larger, Cost-Competitive Offshore Wind Systems
Multimegawatt reference turbine expands capabilities to assess technology for ever-larger and lower-cost designs

Illustration of a new turbine model.

Improvements to wind turbine designs can range from incremental component enhancements to dramatic innovations that change entire systems. How can researchers collaborate with industry to more rapidly develop new, high-performance, cost-competitive turbines, or modify existing turbines, without compromising proprietary information? Reference wind turbines—open-access designs of complete wind turbine systems with supporting models for simulation and design tools—make it possible to evaluate the performance and cost of proposed modifications, relative to a well-known and understood reference point, before prototype development.

A new open-source reference wind turbine can be used to assess designs for offshore turbines up to 15 MW.

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Robotic Systems Improve Blade Reliability
Sandia National Laboratories’ ARROW(e) system brings automated, high-tech wind blade inspections to the field

Photo of a crawling robot against a clear blue sky.

Wind turbine blades are the largest single-piece composite structures in the world, with some now exceeding the length of a football field. Ensuring the reliability of these skyscraper-sized structures over their lifetime is a difficult challenge—these blades can’t be sent to a hangar in the same way airplanes and helicopters can when it’s time for maintenance. Inspections are performed either with telephoto cameras from the ground or using aerial drones. These methods are reasonably good at finding visible damage but currently lack the ability to detect early, hidden damage.

However, recent innovations in robotics may allow for a pathway to introduce low-cost, high-tech inspections to the market: inspections that can detect deep, subsurface damage.

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Which Bats Steer Clear of Wind Turbine Deterrents—and When?
Flight-path monitoring aims to determine the effectiveness of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents

Photo of bat flight tracking.

Technologies that can reduce impacts to bats, birds, and other wildlife not only boost species conservation efforts, but also the efficiency and productivity of wind power projects. DOE supports this environmental win-win with research efforts developing technological innovations that can detect and deter wildlife from approaching wind turbine blades.

Researchers at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are gaining new insights into one such solution—the use of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents (UADs)—as part of that larger effort.

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Innovative Carbon Fiber Materials Enable Longer Blades, Greater Energy Capture than Traditional Fiberglass
Study blows a hole in the theory that wind turbine manufacturers have avoided carbon fiber materials because of their high cost.
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Mind the Wind Workforce Gap
Ensuring today’s students meet tomorrow’s wind energy workforce needs.
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It’s No Li(dar): Buoys Equipped with More Powerful Instrumentation
$1.3-million upgrade extends lidar reach and data recovery rate; provides more accessible information.
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Working To Ensure Wind Is Part of Distributed Energy Future
International team examines solutions to make wind systems competitive in the distributed energy market.
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Wind Is Changing Pricing Patterns in Wholesale Power Markets
In some markets, wind power is having significant impacts on the timing and location of electricity prices.
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Labs Coordinate To Protect Wind Power from Cyberattacks
As wind generation increases, cybersecurity efforts will add resilience to critical infrastructure.
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DOE News

View of a wind farm along a foggy shoreline.

 

Addressing Wind Energy Innovation Challenges

An article in Science magazine invited the scientific community to address three grand challenges in the physical sciences that will drive the innovation needed for wind to continue to contribute to the electricity grid as a low-cost energy source. By investing in science, research, and technology development, and rallying the scientific communities around the physical, environmental, and developmental challenges, WETO hopes for wind to reach its full potential as an environmentally sustainable source of power in the United States.

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Wind Energy Professionals Share Tips for Breezing Into the Wind Workforce
To support growth in wind, the industry needs a broad range of workers, including turbine engineers, project developers, and supply chain managers.
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California Independent System Operator (CAISO) Shows Wind Can Play a Major Role in Renewable Integration
Large utility-scale wind plants can provide essential reliability services to the electricity grid.
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Offshore Wind Demonstration Aqua Ventus Project Secures Power Purchase Agreement
Maine Aqua Ventus I and Central Maine Power Company sign 20-year PPA allowing project to sell it's electricity to Central Maine Power utility.
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Sandia Patents Blade Design that Reduces Wakes Effects
SNL has developed a wind turbine blade design that would allow turbines to be installed closer to one another, due to a faster dissipating wake.
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2020 Collegiate Wind Competition Goes Virtual To Accommodate Health Concerns
The 2020 Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) will be held via webinar in May and June.
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U.S. Department of Energy Launches Energy Storage Grand Challenge
Energy Storage Grand Challenge will accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies.
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Boosting Speed and Accuracy of Wind Plant Optimization Model
NREL has released a new version of its FLOw Redirection and Induction in Steady State (FLORIS) model for wind plant performance optimization.
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Energy Department Announces Participants of 2021 Collegiate Wind Competition
DOE announced the 13 collegiate teams selected to participate in the 2021 CWC. Three new schools were selected and 10 teams are returning.
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Funding News

Wind farm against a clear blue sky.

 

DOE Awards $28 Million for Wind Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Projects

DOE announced the selection of 13 projects to receive a total of $28 million to advance wind energy nationwide. While utility-scale, land-based wind energy in the United States has grown to 96 gigawatts, significant opportunities for cost reductions remain, especially in the areas of offshore wind, distributed wind, and tall wind.

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DOE Announces $67 Million To Enhance Manufacturing Competitiveness Through Innovation
DOE funding opportunity includes integrated additive manufacturing processes for wind turbine blade production.
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EERE Announces $21.3 Million for Phase I Small Business Innovation Projects
Selected small businesses are receiving Phase I grants that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research
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DOE Announces New Grid Modernization Lab Call Projects
In late 2019, DOE announced the results of the latest Grid Modernization Lab Call with funding of approximately $80 million over three years.
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Advancing the Growth of the U.S. Wind Industry: Federal Incentives, Funding, and Partnership Opportunities
This fact sheet outlines the primary federal incentives, resources for funding, and opportunities to partner with DOE and other federal agencies.
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NREL Selects a New Project that Aims to Address Wind-Wildlife Operational Challenges
The new project will advance early-stage technologies for wildlife monitoring and minimization at wind energy facilities.
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DOE Announces Funding for Tall Wind Tower Demonstration
DOE announces $5 million in funding for GE Renewables tall wind tower demonstration.
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Featured Publications

The following is a curated listing of recent or high-profile publications from the Wind Energy Technologies Office and DOE National Laboratories. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE’s) Wind Technology Resource Center for research reports, publications, data sets, and online tools developed by National Laboratories and their facilities.

Wind R&D Newsletter
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