DOE Awards Nearly $7.5 Million to Develop Next Generation Wind Turbines

June 29, 2011

DOE announced on June 28 that 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. The projects will also help promote and accelerate the deployment of advanced turbines for U.S. offshore wind energy.

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. Some funded projects will work to increase the amount of energy drivetrains can produce or help develop drivetrain designs that minimize the use of rare earth materials. For example, Clipper Windpower of California will develop and test a unique drivetrain design that enables increased serviceability over conventional gearboxes and is scalable to large capacity turbines. And Advanced Magnet Lab of Florida will develop an innovative superconducting direct-drive generator for large wind turbines. See the DOE press release and DOE's Wind and Water Power Program website.