In an ongoing effort to expand domestic renewable energy, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu yesterday announced plans to provide $93 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support further development of wind energy in the United States during a visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Secretary Chu also announced more than $100 million in funding from the Recovery Act for NREL facility and infrastructure improvements.
The funding will leverage the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, universities, and the private sector to help improve reliability and overcome key technical challenges for the wind industry. These projects will create green jobs, promote economic recovery, and provide the investments needed to increase renewable energy generation.
“Wind energy will be one of the most important contributors to meeting President Obama’s target of generating 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2012,” said Secretary Chu. “The projects funded by this opportunity will advance wind technology so that it can reliably supply a substantial portion of our nation’s electricity. They will also help in creating more new jobs and expanding a clean energy economy.
- $45 million for wind turbine drivetrain R&D and testing
DOE will provide $45 million directed toward enhancing the federal government’s ability to support the wind industry through testing the performance and reliability of current and next generation wind turbine drivetrain systems.
This investment will deliver dependable and cost effective hardware for utility scale wind turbines with over a 20 year design life. Overall, this project will help to improve the country’s competitiveness in wind energy technology, lower capital costs of wind systems, and maintain a high level of wind energy capacity growth.
- $14 million for technology development
To strengthen its support of the wind industry, DOE will make available $14 million to advance technology development in the private sector. This effort will aim to improve the quality and use of lighter weight, advanced materials for turbine blades, towers, and other components. Another area of emphasis will be process controls for lamination, blade finishing, trimming, grind, painting, materials handling and inspection.
- $24 million for wind power research and development
DOE will provide $24 million for the development of up to three consortia between universities and industry to focus on critical wind energy challenges. These partnerships will allow universities to establish research and development programs to advance material design, performance measurements, analytical models, and work with the industry to improve power systems operations, maintenance and repair, and component manufacturing.
- $10 million for National Wind Technology Center
DOE will invest $10 million at its own National Wind Technology Center in Colorado. This funding will enhance the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s ability to support the wind industry through testing current and next generation wind turbine drive train systems for better performance and reliability. Additionally, upgrades to the electrical distribution system will permit cost recovery of the power produced by two new utility-scale wind turbines being installed there for testing and evaluation.
Additionally, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will also receive:
- $68 million for Research Support Facility
This project will create the nation’s most energy efficient office building at the same cost of low efficiency commercial construction today. It will achieve LEED Platinum and 50% energy use reduction over standard commercial office buildings. The goal is to create a design process that can be replicated by future construction projects.
- $19.2 million for Renewable Energy and Site Infrastructure
Will use solar and potentially geothermal and fuel cells to replace power currently purchased from utilities and reduce our carbon use.
- $13.5 million for upgrades to the Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility
New funding will create a continuous process research and development capability to develop commercial scale cellulose to ethanol technologies. It will also accelerate the development of commercially viable conversion processes.