DOE to Invest $24 Million in Three Wind Energy Research Facilities

October 21, 2009

DOE announced on October 15 its selection of three university-led wind energy research facilities to receive $24 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds over the next two years. Located in Illinois, Maine, and Minnesota, the trio of institutions were selected competitively to conduct research and development on utility-scale and prototype wind turbines, with the goal of improving the performance and reliability of both land-based and offshore wind turbines. The funds will also enable the institutions to provide educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in wind energy technologies.

Photo of a three-bladed wind turbine standing among corn rows, with two other wind turbines in the background.

The Illinois Institute of Technology will perform tests on a 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbine. The one shown here is located at the Forward Wind Energy Center in Wisconsin. Enlarge this image.
Credit: Invenergy LLC

The awardees include Chicago's Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), which will receive up to $8 million to install a test turbine at an existing wind farm in rural Illinois. The 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbine will be used to study advanced concepts for wind turbine control, robust sensors for blades, and innovative models to improve wind turbine performance and reliability. The University of Minnesota will take a similar approach, drawing on up to $8 million to install a 2.3-megawatt Siemens wind turbine, which will be used to investigate novel systems for mechanical power transmission and electric power generation. The new turbine will be close to an existing wind farm, allowing the university to study how it interacts with the wake caused by the nearby turbines.

Meanwhile, the University of Maine will investigate offshore wind power, receiving up to $8 million to design and deploy two 10-kilowatt wind turbine prototypes and one 100-kilowatt prototype to be mounted on floating offshore platforms. The university's plan includes optimizing the designs for floating platforms by evaluating durable, lighter, hybrid composite materials, while also determining the requirements and logistics for manufacturing and deploying the platforms. See the DOE press release and DOE's Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program.