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2000 R&D 100 Award Winner

North Wind 100/20 Wind Turbine

Developers: Gerry Nix and Brian Smith, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Johnathan Lynch, Clint Coleman, Garrett Bywaters, and Rob Roland, Norhtern Power Systems; Dr. David Bubenheim and Michael Flynn, NASA Ames Research Center; and John Rand, National Science Foundation.

The North Wind 100/20 Wind Turbine is a state-of-the-art wind turbine that is ideal for extreme cold conditions perfect for remote locations that may be off-grid or local-grid. The numeric designations represent the North Wind's capacity, 100-kilowatts (which is enough energy for 25-50 homes), and 20-meter diameter blades.

The size of the North Wind 100/20 is unique, fitting an important market niche between large and small turbines. Large turbines (400-kilowatts and larger) are intended for large wind farms and central electric utility generation. They are difficult and costly to ship and to install in remote locations. Small turbines are manufactured for individual use, do not provide reliable power, and cannot be connected to a local-grid, which is necessary in remote locations.

The direct-drive system is the key technological development of the North Wind 100/20. This system eliminates the need for a gear-box which, because it eliminates the need for the use of heated oil to operate, makes the wind turbine especially valuable for applications in cold climates. Assembly is easy, and the turbine can be tilted up into position without the use of a crane, making it cost-effective and ideal for remote locations. The North Wind 100/20 operates at half of the cost and lasts three times as long its primary competitor — diesel generators. Energy from the wind is also environmentally friendly.