The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) yesterday announced several initiatives aimed at realizing the ambitious goal of generating 20% of the nation’s electricty via wind power.
NREL, in partnership with a state consortium led by the University of Houston, will build a wind turbine blade test facility – the Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility – at Ingleside on the Texas Gulf Coast. A second, similar facility to be constructed on the East Coast by NREL in partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was announced earlier.
Addressing the press and attendees at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2008 Conference at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, NREL also announced that it was partnering with Siemens Power Generation to build and test a commercial 2.3 megawatt, SWT-2.3-101 turbine at the Lab’s 305-acre National Wind Technology Center outside Golden, Colorado. At the same time, just north of the Center, NREL and Siemens Power will build and bring into operation its first U.S.-based wind technology research and development center in Boulder, Co.
“The projects announced today demonstrate the shared commitment of the federal government and the private sector to achieve 20 percent wind energy by 2030,” DOE Assistant Secretary Alexander (Andy) Karsner said in a press release. “To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary to expand the domestic wind manufacturing base and streamline the permitting process.”
Wind’s Getting Up
Estimated to cost between $12-$15 million and be completed in 2010, NREL will contribute up to $2 million of capital and provide technical and operational assistance to assist the Texas consortium’s efforts to build and operate the Gulf Coast blade testing facility, which is to be capable of testing wind turbine blades up to at least 70 meters (230 feet) in length.
Further north at its 305-acre National Wind Technology Center, NREL and Siemens Power Generation researchers are to conduct comprehensive tests to evaluate next-generation wind power technology and improve overall performance of new wind turbines. Power quality, noise emissions, rotor aerodynamics and assessing load factors under normal and adverse operating conditions are among the items to be investigated.
Boulder, Colorado was chosen to be the site of Siemens’ first R&D facility in the U.S. due to its being the home of the University of Colorado, Boulder and its proximity to NREL, as well as other key energy research institutions.
“The U.S. wind industry grew by an astounding 45 percent in 2007,” commented NREL Director Dan Arvizu. “These projects demonstrate a commitment to the crucial technology R&D – and the public-private partnerships – that will be necessary to ensure the wind power industry’s continued momentum. We at NREL are proud to be at the forefront of this important work.”