U.S. DOE Wind Program
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Wind Program sponsors research designed to improve the performance, lower the costs, and accelerate the deployment of wind power technologies. For example, the program's research efforts have helped to increase the average capacity factor from 22% for wind turbines installed before 1998 to 35% for turbines installed between 2004 and 2007. Wind energy costs have been reduced from about 80 cents (current dollars) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 1980 to between five and eight cents per kWh today. Research is focused in the following areas: large wind technology, offshore wind technology, distributed wind technology, supporting wind turbine manufacturing, renewable systems interconnection, environmental impacts and siting of wind projects, and wind power outreach and education.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducts research that supports the DOE's Wind Program. At NREL's National Wind Technology Center in Boulder, Colorado, researchers work to improve windplant power production, reduce windplant capital cost, improve windplant reliability, lower O&M cost and eliminate barriers to large-scale deployment. NREL's research capabilities include design review and analysis, computer-aided engineering tools, systems and controls analysis, testing, utility grid integration assessment and wind resource assessment and mapping.
Other U.S. laboratories conducting wind energy research include Ames Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oakridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Savannah River National Laboratory.
The DOE's Wind Program also participates in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Energy Executive Committee, which supports international wind energy research efforts in 10 areas. The program's participation in these international research efforts provides U.S. researchers an opportunity to collaborate with international experts in wind energy, exchange recent technical and market information, and gain valuable feedback for the U.S. industry.