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Department of Energy Awards Nearly $7.5 Million to Help Develop Next Generation Wind Turbines

June 28, 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that six projects in four states—California, Colorado, Florida, and New York—have been selected to receive nearly $7.5 million over two years to advance next-generation designs for wind turbine drivetrains. Drivetrains, which include a turbine's gearbox and generator, are at the heart of the turbine and are responsible for producing electricity from the rotation of the blades. The advances in drivetrain technologies and configurations supported through these research and development projects will help the United States maintain its position as a global leader in wind energy technologies, support thousands of American manufacturing, construction and planning jobs in a key renewable energy market, and reduce the cost of wind energy in the future. The projects selected today will also help promote and accelerate the deployment of advanced turbines for offshore wind energy in the United States.

"Developing innovative drivetrain technologies will allow U.S. manufacturers to build larger, more cost-effective, and more efficient wind turbines than any in operation today," said Secretary Chu. "The projects announced today will help the United States to lead the global wind energy industry in this critical technology area, diversify our domestic energy portfolio, and create new jobs for American workers."

These early research and development projects will focus on reducing the cost of wind energy by increasing component reliability or redesigning drivetrains to eliminate the need for some components altogether. For example, direct-drive generators eliminate the need for a gearbox, which reduces weight, eliminates moving parts, and reduces maintenance costs. Increased component reliability means fewer operations and maintenance costs over the lifetime of a wind turbine. Other projects receiving funding will work to increase the amount of energy drivetrains can produce or help develop drivetrain designs that minimize the use of rare earth materials. More information on the components that make up a drivetrain is available.

Each project has been selected to receive up to $700,000 to conduct technology cost and readiness assessments during Phase I. Following the six-month Phase I funding period, several of the projects will be selected for award negotiations of up to an additional $2 million each over 18 months. Projects selected for Phase II awards will use the funding to conduct performance tests of the specific drivetrain components.

Below is the list of the projects selected for awards:

The awards will be issued through DOE's Wind and Water Power Program, which works to research, test, develop, and deploy innovative wind energy technologies.

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Content Last Updated: 09/21/2011