DOE funds distributed wind firms

The US Energy Department (DOE) will provide $1.35m funding to help manufacturers drive down the cost of small- and medium-size distributed wind energy systems.

The funding will assist four groups to improve their turbine designs and manufacturing processes to reduce hardware costs, and improve efficiency and eventually earn certification from accredited third-party bodies.

These bodies issue easy-to-understand labels showing a turbine has met performance and safety testing requirements set by the wind industry.

Distributed wind systems are typically installed on residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, or community sites, and can range in size from 5kW to multiple megawatts depending on their application.

DOE’s Competitiveness Improvement Project that is providing the funding focuses on small and medium-sized turbines up to 250kW in rated capacity. 

The groups that won funding are led by:

*Pika Energy of Westbrook, Maine. Pika will scale up their existing turbine components to roughly twice their current size to produce a turbine capable of producing more energy at a reduced end-user cost. It will also implement the use of an injection molding technique for manufacturing in order to produce lighter and stronger components.

*Northern Power Systems of Barre, Vermont. It will develop and deploy an innovative blade designed for low wind speed applications. It will also model and test an advanced control method that will help increase the amount of energy produced by their turbine.

*Endurance Wind Power of Spanish Forks, Utah. It will test the prototype of their expanded rotor that allows for a larger wind-sweep area, leading to a more efficient turbine.

*Urban Green Energy of New York City will test a vertical axis wind turbine against the American Wind Energy Association’s Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard. The standard provides consumers with realistic and comparable performance ratings of competing products.