• Energy & Power

DOE Wind Energy Support Program

The Energy Program is one of 10 clean energy technology programs within the Department of Energy. It is managed by program staff at Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and its Project Management Center (PMC) in

Golden, Colorado, manages the financial assistance, provides program support, and conducts outreach activities. The program provides funding to a wide range of public and private sector partners, with primary focus on the National Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) near Boulder, Colorado, and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. NREL and SNL conduct wind energy research with industry partners and researchers from universities nationwide to advance wind energy technologies. Each laboratory is exten-sively equipped with a unique set of skills and capabilities to meet industry needs.

As the lead research facility for the program, NREL’s NWTC conducts research across the complete spectrum of engineering disciplines that are applicable to wind energy, including: atmospheric fluid mechanics and aerodynamics; dynamics, structures, and fatigue; systems and electronics; and wind turbine engineering applications. The center also provides design reviews and analysis; dynamometer, field, and blade testing services; and field verification for wind turbines that range in size from 400 watts to 2.5 MW. The NWTC is the Nation’s only wind energy technology test facility accredited to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards.

Industry partners may use the center’s facilities to conduct atmospheric, static-strength, and fatigue tests on turbines and components, including its 2.5-MW dynamometer, to conduct lifetime endurance tests on a wide range of wind turbine drivetrains and gearboxes. In addition, the NWTC completed construction of a 225-kW dynamometer in 2005 that will aid development of advanced generators and power electronics for small wind systems. The NWTC also has two permanently installed advanced wind turbines to test new control schemes and equipment, and sites for testing industry prototype wind turbines.

SNL specializes in all aspects of wind-turbine blade design and system reliability. Activities at SNL focus on reducing the cost of wind generated electricity and improving the reliability of systems operating nationwide. Research disciplines include: materials, airfoils, stress analysis, fatigue analysis, structural analysis, and manufacturing processes. By partnering with both universities and industry, SNL has advanced the state of knowledge in the areas of materials, structur-ally efficient airfoil designs, active-flow aerodynamic control, and sensors. Researchers at the laboratory are currently investigating integrated blade designs where airfoil choice, blade planform, materials, manufacturing process, and embedded controls are all considered in a system perspective. By collaborating with operators, developers, and manufacturers, SNL evaluates known reliability problems and develops tools and methods to anticipate and investigate future reliability issues.