US Dept. of Energy wants bigger wind energy ideas

New energy program, technology money, consortium advance wind energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to kick up the research and development of offshore wind projects as it looks to achieve its goal of producing produce 20% of the country's electricity from wind farms by 2030. 

The DOE Wind Program is looking to hone in on what it calls specific advanced technology, gigawatt-scale demonstration projects " that can be carried out by partnerships with a wide range of eligible organizations and stimulate of cost-effective offshore wind energy deployment in coastal and Great Lakes regions of the country. 

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The agency is also looking for more research that can help address market barriers in order to facilitate deployment and reduce technical challenges facing the entire industry, as well as technology that will reduce cost of offshore wind energy through innovation and testing. 

And the Wind Program isn't the only push the DOE has made this month.  The agency recently announced it would offer $6 million in contracts to improve short-term wind energy forecasting. The funding will support projects that enhance the ability of utilities and electricity grid operators to forecast when and where generation from wind power will take place, allowing for improved utility operations. 

In May it said it would spend another $6 million to advance midsize wind turbine technology in order to boost the speed and scale of midsize turbine deployment. The agency said it will provide the funding over two years to accelerate the development, testing, and commercialization of domestically manufactured, midsize wind turbines with rated generating capacities between 100 kilowatts and 1 megawatt. 

And this month The Department of the Interior and the governors of 10 East Coast states signed a Memorandum of Understanding that formally established the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium. The consortium will promote the development of wind resources on the Outer Continental Shelf along the East Coast, primarily by coordinating state and federal efforts relating to permitting. 

The DOE said that reaching 20% wind energy will require enhanced transmission infrastructure, streamlined siting and permitting, improved reliability and operability of wind systems, and increased U.S. wind manufacturing capacity.  For such a plan to succeed the DOE said a number of goals must be attained, including:

  • Annual installations need to increase more than threefold.  Achieving 20% wind will require the number of annual turbine installations to increase to approximately 7000 by 2017. 
  • Costs of integrating intermittent wind power into the grid are modest. 20% wind can be reliably integrated into the grid for less than 0.5 cents per kWh. 
  • No material constraints currently exist. Although demand for copper, fiberglass and other raw materials will increase, achieving 20% wind is not limited by the availability of raw materials.

 Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8   

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