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News Release: New Wind Power Partnerships to Benefit Industry and Nation

June 3, 2008

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today announced projects that will enhance the nation’s ability to realize the full potential of wind power across the United States.

The projects include: a new wind turbine blade test facility to be constructed in Texas; a partnership between NREL, DOE, and a state consortium led by University of Houston; a just-signed agreement with Siemens Power Generation to locate and test a commercial-scale wind turbine at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center; and, a new Siemens research and development facility in Boulder, Colo., which will work closely with NREL on advanced wind power technologies.

The announcements were made at a press conference as part of the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2008 Conference at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center.

“The projects announced today demonstrate the shared commitment of the federal government and the private sector to achieve 20 percent wind energy by 2030,” DOE Assistant Secretary Alexander (Andy) Karsner said. “To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary to expand the domestic wind manufacturing base and streamline the permitting process.”

“The U.S. wind industry grew by an astounding 45 percent in 2007,” said NREL Director Dan Arvizu. “These projects demonstrate a commitment to the crucial technology R&D – and the public-private partnerships – that will be necessary to ensure the wind power industry’s continued momentum. We at NREL are proud to be at the forefront of this important work.”

At the Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility on the Gulf Coast at Ingleside, Tex., NREL will provide technical and operational assistance, and DOE will fund up to $2 million in capital costs, for a state-of-the-art facility capable of testing blades up to at least 70 meters, or 230 feet, in length.

““Our university is gratified to play a leading role in the strong, broad-based alliance of public and private organizations required for this project,” said Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston and chancellor of the UH System.  “The technological rewards from this world-class facility will expand the reach of wind power in our own state and the rest of the nation.”

 The blade test facility is estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million, and is expected to be completed in 2010.  The structures housing the test facilities will be owned and operated by the University of Houston.

A similar blade test facility on the East Coast, the Massachusetts-NREL Wind Technology Testing Center at the Harbor of Charlestown, Mass., was announced earlier.  That facility is a partnership between NREL and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

In the partnership with Siemens Power Generation, a 2.3 megawatt, SWT-2.3-101 commercial wind turbine will be erected at NREL’s 305-acre National Wind Technology Center, where NREL and Siemens researchers will conduct a full array of tests to evaluate existing systems and develop new ones for next-generation technologies.  The work, which will be conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between NREL and Siemens, will encompass power quality, noise emissions, rotor aerodynamics, load factors during normal operation and under severe operating conditions – all with a goal of improving the overall performance of new turbines.

Simultaneous to its CRADA with NREL, Siemens will construct and begin operation of its first U.S.-based wind technology research and development (R&D) center, to be located north of the NREL National Wind Technology Center, in Boulder.

“Boulder will be Siemens’ first wind turbine R&D competence center in the U.S. and will increase our ability to competitively serve this important market,” said Andreas Nauen, CEO of the Siemens Wind Power Business Unit. “Because of the proximity of important institutions such as NREL and the NWTC, Boulder is the perfect location for a R&D center in the U.S.”

NREL has been developing and providing specialized blade testing services as part of its broader wind turbine research and development portfolio for more than 20 years at its National Wind Technology Center.

All of these projects will help facilitate the continued rapid growth of the U.S. wind industry.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.


—Gary Schmitz