National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) - Innovation for Our Energy Future
Up to Wind Speed

September Newsletter

Up to Wind Speed is a quarterly newsletter from NREL's National Wind Technology Center (NWTC).

For more than two decades, research conducted by NREL's Wind Program has helped industry advance wind energy technology, increasing reliability and lowering the cost of energy. As we continue our efforts with the wind industry in 2010, we will keep you up to speed on what's happening in wind energy research and development and provide you with links to NWTC's recent publications.

In this issue:

NREL and Alstom Enter Long-Term R&D Relationship

Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), Alstom is installing a 3-MW Eco100 wind turbine on a 90m tower for testing at NREL's National Wind Technology Center. This multi-megawatt wind turbine has a 100-m rotor diameter. Performance testing begins October 2010 and will be complete in 2011. Other tests such as a long-term fatigue loads study will continue through 2013.

Engineers plan to conduct field tests to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards on power quality, power performance, acoustic noise, and vibration testing that Alstom can use for U.S. certification.

"We are thrilled to welcome Alstom as an R&D partner," said Dave Simms, NREL's manager of NWTC Testing & Operations. "This project meets the U.S. Department of Energy's goal to support R&D efforts to reduce the cost of renewable energy technologies and accelerate large-scale use of carbon-free electricity sources."

Alstom, a global organization and wind turbine manufacturer, is building its first North American facility, a 115,000 square foot wind power turbine assembly facility in Amarillo, Texas. NREL's testing of the Eco100 will provide Alstom with the reports it needs to have the turbine certified and spur U.S. production.

Senior Vice President of Alstom Power's Wind and Hydro business divisions, Philippe Cochet said, "NREL is a well-respected authority on technical issues related to the renewable energy market. Having their input and validation will give our customers confidence that our equipment is fully suited to the particular characteristics of the U.S. wind energy market."


Recently, the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) received a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program Award for almost $1 million for "Wind Turbine Array Fluid Dynamic and Aero-Elastic Simulations."

Under this award, an NWTC research team led by Pat Moriarty plans to develop a tool to accurately simulate wind turbine array flows, in a variety of atmospheric conditions, while it simultaneously predicts the loading that wind turbines encounter in an array environment. Use of this tool will elicit better model results that address wind farm underperformance, turbine fatigue loading, and local climate impacts.

"The project, rather than looking at stand-alone wind turbines, looks at wind turbines as they are more often deployed within large wind farms," Pat Moriarty explains. "Better models for wind farm atmospheric interactions could change turbine design, operation, maintenance, and siting strategies."

The LDRD Program encourages technical and scientific innovation and its awards are key investments for the future of research and development at NREL.

For further information on this research, read the U.S. Department of Energy Workshop Report: Research Needs for Wind Resource CharacterizationPDF. S. Schreck, J. Lundquist, W. Shaw. TP-500-43521, June 2008.

NREL Welcomes Dr. Paul Veers

Dr. Paul Veers joined the NWTC as Chief Engineer in August. Dr. Veers has had a distinguished 30-year career including Wind Energy Technology Program Manager at Sandia National Laboratory, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has developed an international reputation for excellence. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Wisconsin, and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford. Dr. Veers is the Chief Editor of Wind Energy, an international journal for progress and applications in wind power conversion technology.

Wind Integration in the West

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently released a major study of the technical, operational, and economic issues facing the integration of large amounts of wind energy and lesser amounts of solar energy into the power system. The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS), one of the largest studies of its kind conducted in the United States to date, complements the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS) released earlier this year.

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS) investigates the operational impact of up to 35% energy penetration of wind, photovoltaics (PVs), and concentrating solar power (CSP) on the power system operated by the WestConnect* group of utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming. WWSIS was conducted over two and a half years by a team of researchers in wind power, solar power, and utility operations, with oversight from technical experts in these fields.

The study shows that it is operationally feasible for WestConnect to accommodate 30% wind and 5% solar energy penetration, assuming the following changes to current practice could be made over time to better accommodate variable generation:

  • Substantially increase utility control area (i.e., the collection of generation, transmission, and loads within the metered boundaries) cooperation or consolidation
  • Increase the use of short-timeframe (less than 1 hour) scheduling for more cost-effective use of generation and wholesale power sale options
  • Increase efficient use of transmission capacity through technical improvements and more optimal scheduling
  • Enable better coordinated commitment and more economic scheduling of generation over wider geographic regions
  • Incorporate state-of-the-art wind and solar forecasts in generator scheduling and grid operations
  • Increased use of flexible generation, e.g., generation that can be increased or decreased with minimal cost and lower performance penalties
  • Obtain broader commitments of contracted power held in reserve
  • Build transmission to accommodate renewable energy expansion
  • Target new or existing demand response programs (e.g., voluntary customer participation in electrical load management

The Western Wind and Solar Integration StudyPDF is published online at NREL's National Wind Technology Center Web site.

* WestConnect is a group of transmission providers that are working collaboratively on initiatives to improve wholesale electricity markets in the West. Participants include Arizona Public Service, El Paso Electric Co., NV Energy, Public Service of New Mexico, Salt River Project, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Tucson Electric Power, Western Area Power Administration, and Xcel Energy.

Brainstorming Drivetrain Concepts

In June, NREL and DOE hosted a two-day Advanced Drivetrain Workshop in Broomfield, Colorado. Industry members, DOE, and NREL/NWTC staff brainstormed advanced drivetrain concepts through working groups focused in four areas:

  • superconducting drivetrains
  • advanced permanent-magnet topologies
  • continuously variable transmissions
  • innovative and nontraditional drivetrain concepts.

The working groups considered the current status of drivetrains, including the barriers and challenges to commercialization, and discussed the outlook for the technology. DOE plans to publish a final report on the workshop.

Workforce Development Efforts

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) 20% Wind Energy by 2030 report presents a scenario for generating 20% of the nation's electricity needs by 2030. In the last 10 years of that scenario, the wind industry could support 500,000 new jobs, including more than 150,000 direct jobs.

DOE's Wind Powering America initiative is currently gathering public input on the development of a Wind Energy Workforce Roadmap, which will detail the current landscape in the wind industry and define steps necessary to train and develop a wind workforce.

Through a request for information (RFI), leaders from academia, industry, and government may help to create the Roadmap that will establish policy objectives and direction for workforce development efforts moving forward. A draft Roadmap document has been developed, and the public may provide comments on the initial draft or may provide alternative or additional insight and guidance.

View the full text of the RFI at the FedConnect Web site.

Recent NWTC Publications

All NREL publications are available at: NREL Publications Database

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