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Wind turbines must withstand powerful aerodynamic forces unlike any other propeller-drive machines.

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NREL's work with industry has improved the efficiency and durability of turbine blades and gearboxes.

Innovations include:

  • Specialized airfoils
  • Variable-speed turbines
  • Certification testing
  • Simulation tools.

How many U.S. states have viable wind resources?

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NREL Thinks Big at the 305-Acre
National Wind Technology Center

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The site features unique test facilities and specialized computer simulation tools. A 5-megawatt (MW) dynamometer is large enough to test any land-based turbine and its mechanical and electrical power-producing systems for the foreseeable future. The Controllable Grid Interface test system is the only one in the world that is fully integrated with two dynamometers.

The Next Great Research Challenge

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NREL research in power plant dynamics focuses on maximizing the efficiency and durability of large installations with dozens of turbines. Wake turbulence can degrade performance and damage adjacent turbines. NREL scientists have developed complex software models to predict the effects of this turbulence. The potential exists for a 5%-10% increase in energy capture.

NREL Partners with GE

18,000 turbines

28 gigawatts installed capacity

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NREL researchers worked with turbine manufacturers to develop variable-speed turbines, which take advantage of lower wind conditions. This innovation was used by General Electric (GE) to improve the performance of its 1.5-MW turbine and build global market share.

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NREL pioneered many of the innovations leading to today's robust wind industry.

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Learn more about NREL's wind innovation impacts.

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Wind energy resource maps developed by NREL and industry show that most U.S. states have a viable wind resource when used with modern wind technology. Globally, NREL is helping to develop high-resolution projections of wind resources.