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NREL Seeks Turbine Manufacturer Partners for Distributed Wind Research

Distributed-Scale Wind Turbines Will Add to Existing Research Capabilities of NREL and Other DOE National Laboratories

Aug. 26, 2020

An aerial photograph of a energy laboratory campus with a wind turbine in the foreground and mountains in the background on a clear day.

NREL invites manufacturers to express interest in installing small wind turbines at NREL’s Flatirons Campus (shown here) as part of a collaborative effort to improve wind-centered microgrids for distributed energy systems in remote locations. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

In an effort to advance distributed wind energy innovation, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is inviting manufacturers to express their interest in installing distributed-scale wind turbines as research hardware at NREL’s Flatirons Campus, located south of Boulder, Colorado.

NREL seeks 100-kilowatt or smaller turbines to conduct research focused on the integration of wind energy with behind- and in-front-of-the-meter grid-connected and microgrid applications.

Companies interested in sourcing turnkey wind turbine systems are encouraged to submit equipment specifications and company qualifications, which will be accepted until September 23 at 2:00 p.m. MT. NREL plans to release a request for proposal later this year. Offerors must be U.S. companies with a wind turbine on the path to certification to U.S. or international standards. Although intellectual property will be protected, manufacturers will be required to give DOE laboratory researchers access to aspects of the turbine control and grid interface.

Distributed wind energy systems generate on-site electricity and feed it directly to homes and businesses and through local microgrids in remote locations.

“Distributed wind has the potential to change the way people around the globe address their energy needs,” said NREL Distributed Wind Platform Lead Ian Baring-Gould. “By partnering with small turbine makers, NREL will help bring renewable energy costs down and energy sources closer to loads, providing more flexible, secure, and resilient options to grid-fed electricity from distant, large power plants.”

According to Baring-Gould, the new turbines will help build out wind assets at distributed scale as part of the larger Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) platform and will support DOE’s collaborative Microgrids, Infrastructure Resilience, and Advanced Controls Launchpad (MIRACL) project. MIRACL works to develop wind-centered microgrids as plug-and-play components in hybrid systems with solar energy, energy storage, and other distributed energy resources. The new Flatirons Campus wind turbines will add to existing research capabilities of NREL and MIRACL partners Pacific Northwest, Sandia, and Idaho national laboratories.

“These turbines will help the MIRACL team explore different ways distributed energy can contribute to future energy systems,” said MIRACL Project Leader and NREL Researcher James Reilly. “We’ve seen wind turbines improve the resilience and operability of energy systems—in scenarios ranging from isolated communities in Alaska to businesses across the Midwest—but much more can be done to improve the way wind and other renewable technologies strengthen tomorrow’s energy grid.”

The new turbines will be centerpieces of distributed wind research at NREL and across DOE’s national laboratory system. The Flatirons Campus is the nation’s premier wind energy, water power, and grid integration research facility. Home to the National Wind Technology Center, the Flatirons Campus offers industry partners the opportunity to use its field research facilities—including its wind turbines and meteorological towers—to develop, demonstrate, and de-risk their technologies in a safe environment.  

Responses to the expression of interest should follow the guidelines provided within the Sources Sought request on the System for Awards Management. Although submission of turbine options is part of the initial sources sought, it is strongly recommended as these responses will be used to tailor the formal proposal. Questions should be addressed to NREL Procurement Office Subcontract Administrator Kyndall Jackson prior to September 6, 2020.

Learn more about NREL's Flatirons Campus, the MIRACL project, and other distributed wind energy research.