EDinformatics Home Page
 


Math and Science Home Page

Today is
 More Activities

Alternative Energy Sources:

BIOFUELS

BIOMASS

GEOTHERMAL

SOLAR ENERGY

WIND ENERGY

OCEAN ENERGY

HYDROELECTRIC

NUCLEAR ENERGY

 

 Schools and Careers

Careers Home Page

What are the 20 fastest growing career?

Colleges and Universities -- USA and Foreign

Career Guide for Kids and Teens

Select a Career

Science

Math

Vocational Careers

Nursing

Biotechnology

ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF ENERGY-- WIND ENERGY RESEARCH

Wind Energy Research

Wind energy is a clean, domestically produced renewable energy resource that contributes to our nation's security, improves its environmental quality, and stimulates rural economic development. By the end of 2008, the U.S. wind industry had become one of the fastest growing utility-scale energy resources in the nation. With a current annual growth rate of 30% to 40%, the nation's wind energy capacity increased from 2,500 MW in 1996 to more than 21,000 MW at the end of 2008.

Although 21,000 MW is enough capacity to power about 5 million average homes, it still comprises less than 2% of our nation's generation portfolio. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report that examines the feasibility increasing our nation's wind capacity to more than 300,000 MW to produce 20% of our electricity demand by 2030. The report concludes that although 20% wind energy by 2030 is technically achievable, it will require research and development efforts to help increase wind energy system reliability and operability, improve manufacturing processes, address transmission and grid integration issues, mitigate siting and environmental issues, and expand the wind energy market.

To expand wind energy's contribution to the nation, the Wind Energy Program focuses its research in two primary areas:

  • Increasing the technical viability of wind systems, and
  • Increasing technology application or the use of wind power in the marketplace.

Large Wind Technology

Large wind turbine research improves the commercial viability and supports greater deployment of wind energy by improving the reliability and performance of existing technology, while setting the stage for future wind technologies advanced through applied research and market assessment. This page describes the highlights of the Wind Energy Program's research in this field.

Goal

The Wind Energy Program's goal is to reduce the cost of electricity for large land-based wind systems in Class 4 winds (5.8 m/s at a height of 10 m) to 3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2012 and offshore systems in Class 6 winds (6.7 m/s at a height of 10 m) to 7 cents/kWh by 2014.

Wind turbines are currently capable of producing electricity at 5 - 8 cents/kWh in Class 4 wind regimes across the United States.

Research Project Highlights

These are some of the key research project highlights from the Wind Energy Program's research in large wind technology.

Prototype Development

During the past two decades, the Wind Energy Program has worked with industry to develop a number of prototype technologies, many of which have become commercially viable products. One example is the GE Wind Energy 1.5-MW wind turbine. At the end of 2007, GE had more than 6,500 of these machines installed worldwide. The design of GE's 1.5-MW machine is based on work conducted with GE and its predecessors (Zond and Enron). Since the early 1990s, the program worked with these companies to test components such as blades, generators, and control systems on the various generations of machines that led to GE's 1.5-MW workhorse. Another project that is demonstrating commercial success is the new 2.5-MW wind turbine manufactured by Clipper Windpower. Clipper produced a prototype of its 2.5-MW Liberty wind turbine in 2005 after only three years of cooperative research and development work with the Wind Energy Program. The company installed 170 MW of its 2.5-MW machine in 2007.

Component Development

The Wind Energy Program also works with industry partners to improve the performance and reliability of system components. Knight & Carver's Wind Blade Division in National City, California, worked with program researchers at Sandia National Laboratories to develop an innovative wind turbine blade that the company expects to increase energy capture by 5% to 10%. The most distinctive characteristic of the Sweep Twist Adaptive Rotor (STAR) blade is a gently curved tip, which unlike the vast majority of blades in use, is specially designed to take maximum advantage of all wind speeds, including marginal speeds. The blade was tested for endurance at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2008.

To support the development of more reliable gearboxes, the program has worked with several companies to design and test innovative drivetrain concepts. Clipper's Liberty wind turbine incorporates a highly innovative multiple-drive path gearbox that feeds four advanced permanent-magnet generators. Global Energy Concepts (GEC) fabricated a 1.5-MW, single-stage drivetrain with a planetary gearbox and a medium-speed (190 rpm), permanent-magnet generator that shows potential for reducing tower-head weight and drivetrain costs. Northern Power Systems (NPS) constructed a permanent-magnet generator with a novel power converter to allow variable-speed operation. The NPS converter was chosen by the American Wind Energy Association for its 2006 Technical Achievement Award.

Distributed Wind Energy Technology

The Wind Energy Program's Distributed Wind Technology research is working to meet growing consumer demands for small turbines (up to 100 kilowatts) for residential and small business applications; mid-sized turbines (100 kilowatts to 1 megawatt) for farms, ranches, and small industry; and locally owned community projects using larger turbines tied to distribution lines. This page describes the program's distributed wind energy research goals, activities, and some of its recent project highlights.

Goal

The goal of the program's distributed wind energy activities is to expand the number of distributed wind turbines (1 kilowatt or larger) deployed in the U.S. market fivefold from a 2007 baseline (2,400 units). Activities to support this goal include providing technical support and independent testing of small turbines to ensure good credible and reliable products are available in the United States market.

Research Project Highlights

These are some of the key research project highlights from the Wind Energy Program's research in distributed wind energy technology.

Independent and Testing Activities

To help industry provide consumers with more small wind turbine systems certified for safety and performance, the Wind Program launched an independent small wind test project in 2007. The primary objective of this activity is to test commercially available small wind turbine systems that have a high probability of success in the U.S. market over the next several years. The availability of reliable small wind turbines will support the program goal of increasing the number of small wind turbines installed in the United States 5-fold by 2015.

Prototype Development

The Wind Energy Program has worked with several small wind industry partners to develop commercially available award-winning small and mid-sized wind generation systems. In 2000, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) received and R&D 100 Award for its contribution to the development of the Northern Power Systems (NPS) NorthWind 100/20 wind turbine. The NorthWind 100/20 wind turbine is a state-of-the-art wind turbine designed for operation in remote, cold-climate conditions. By the end of 2007, 11 of these turbines had been installed and 10 more were sold and awaiting installation. Since then, NPS has reconfigured its 100-kW cold weather turbine for agricultural and community applications in temperate climates. The company began testing its new prototype at the NREL in 2007.

Southwest Windpower has been working with the program for the past several years to develop a 1.8-kW wind energy generator called the Skystream. In 2006, Southwest Windpower received a Best of What's New Award from Popular Science for its new wind generator, and it was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the "Best Inventions 2006." Since the company began commercial production of the Skystream in 2007, it has sold more than 1,000 units.

The program also worked with Windward Engineering to design and test a 4.25-kW machined called the Endurance. The company began commercial production of the machine in 2008.

Source and more information: Wind Energy Research US Department of Energy

 Schools and Careers

Careers Home Page

What are the 20 fastest growing career?

Colleges and Universities -- USA and Foreign

Career Guide for Kids and Teens

Select a Career

Science

Math

Vocational Careers

Nursing

Biotechnology

 

 

Questions or Comments?
Copyright 1999 EdInformatics.com
All Rights Reserved
.