NREL Selects Manufacturers of Small- and Medium-Sized Wind Turbine Technology for 2022–2023 Funding

After More Than a Decade, the Competitiveness Improvement Project Illustrates a Record of Continuous Technology Innovation

Dec. 15, 2022 | By Carol Laurie | Contact media relations

When Mike Bergey applied for funding through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP) in 2012, he was planning to redesign the Bergey Windpower Company’s (Bergey Windpower’s) 10-kilowatt (kW) wind turbine to lower costs, which was necessary to compete with imported solar photovoltaics.

Over the next 10 years and with several CIP awards, Bergey Windpower traveled on a journey of continuous technological improvement made possible through CIP, which is managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on behalf of DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office. These awards helped Bergey Windpower ultimately develop, refine, and certify a new, 15-kW wind turbine.

“The development of our new Excel 15 turbine was made possible through several rounds of Competitiveness Improvement Project funding,” said Bergey, CEO of Bergey Windpower. “Thanks to CIP support, this turbine has lowered costs by more than 50% compared to our Excel 10.”

A small wind turbine in a rural setting.
Bergey Windpower Company developed the Excel 15 wind turbine with support from the Competitiveness Improvement Project. The project is designed to reduce the cost of distributed wind energy and accelerate deployment of small- and medium-sized wind turbines across the United States. Photo from Nelson Aerial Productions

Through CIP, NREL is working with dozens of U.S. manufacturers like Bergey Windpower.

“The Competitiveness Improvement Project has played a significant role in driving down costs for distributed wind energy by helping small- and medium-scale wind turbines become a realistic option for rural residents and businesses alike,” said Brent Summerville, NREL distributed wind energy researcher. “This helps create more resilient communities and supports the Biden administration’s goals of reaching 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero-carbon-emissions economy by 2050.”

Distributed wind energy, which is used at or near where it is generated, could support near-term decarbonization for rural communities as well as agricultural, commercial, and industrial businesses in windy areas—especially in the U.S. Midwest and Heartland regions. Large-scale development of distributed energy resources also reduces reliance on the nation’s already constrained transmission network by providing power directly to end users.

NREL Selects Manufacturers for CIP 2022–2023 Funding

A small wind turbine against a cloudy blue sky.
Bergey Windpower Company has received several Competitiveness Improvement Project awards since 2012. By 2022, the Bergey Excel 15 wind turbine had doubled its annual energy production, which reduced the levelized cost of energy by more than 50%. Photo from Bergey Windpower Company

NREL has announced plans to award $2.9 million to 11 manufacturers of small- and medium-scale wind turbine technology through CIP. These awards help manufacturers of wind turbines less than 1 megawatt in capacity, as well as other distributed wind technology such as power electronics, to:

  • Optimize their designs to reduce costs, increase energy production, and enhance grid reliability, resilience, and compatibility with solar and storage systems
  • Develop advanced manufacturing processes to increase production and reduce costs
  • Support distributed wind energy adoption through turbine and component testing for certification to national performance and safety standards
  • Accelerate pathways for commercialization.

After the 2022–2023 project agreements are finalized, NREL will have awarded 64 subcontracts to 26 companies, totaling $15.4 million of DOE funding, while leveraging $7.9 million in additional private-sector investment since CIP began in 2012.

The companies selected for 2022–2023 CIP awards are:

  • Bergey Windpower Company, Norman, Oklahoma: To increase access to its flagship 15-kW wind turbine model, Bergey Windpower will develop an innovative financing solution to reduce upfront costs for residential customers in partnership with a major solar financing company.
  • Carter Wind Turbines, Wichita Falls, Texas: Carter Wind Turbines will develop a 20% taller, 60-meter tower that will increase energy production and lower costs for its modernized 300-kW wind turbine. The project builds on past CIP awards aimed at opening a broader range of wind resources and applications for Carter Wind Turbines’ medium-scale turbine technology including remote and behind‐the‐meter industrial deployments.
  • Eocycle America Corporation, Swanton, Vermont: Eocycle America Corporation has been selected for two new CIP awards, under which it will:
    • Partner with large corporate agricultural organizations to develop business models for expanding the deployment of distributed wind energy across their properties
    • Complete electrical safety listing of the company’s Eocycle EOX S-16 turbine system to the UL 6142 standard.
  • NPS Solutions, Darien, Connecticut: NPS Solutions plans to complete the UL 1741-SA power converter (inverter) electrical listing required for the U.S. market. This listing will demonstrate compliance of NPS Solutions’ 100-kW turbine technology with the latest grid interconnection safety standard, a new requirement for deployment in the U.S. market.
  • Pecos Wind Power, Somerville, Massachusetts: Pecos Wind Power will develop the design and tooling for the fabrication of a 14.5-meter wind turbine blade that will lead to a lower-cost 85-kW wind turbine.
  • Primus Wind Power, Lakewood, Colorado: Primus Wind Power will test six of its micro wind turbine models for certification to standards set by the American National Standards Institute, American Clean Power Association, and Federal Communications Commission.
  • RRD Engineering, Arvada, Colorado: RRD Engineering will begin developing BladeRunner, a 150-kW wind turbine that reduces technology costs through a simpler manufacturing process of blades and support structures and by using readily available materials.
  • Sonsight Wind, Grayson, Georgia: Sonsight Wind will manufacture a permanent-magnet generator for its prototype 3.5-kW distributed wind turbine, advancing toward the goal of manufacturing a certified and cost-competitive small-scale distributed wind turbine.
  • Windurance LLC, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania: Windurance LLC will design a modular energy storage solution that will be certified by a third party to the UL 1741 standard. The innovative, scalable design presents a solution for a wide range of distributed wind turbine sizes (about 15–160 kW) and applications.
  • Windward Engineering, Spanish Fork, Utah: At a test site in Spanish Fork, Utah, Windward Engineering will install and test a prototype 60-kW, three-bladed, downwind, horizontal-axis wind turbine with independent pitch-to-stall control.
  • Xflow Energy Company, Seattle, Washington: XFlow Energy Company will optimize its 25-kW, three-bladed, vertical-axis wind turbine, which was originally designed to address the needs of remote communities, to make it suitable for a wide range of customers in the U.S. grid-connected market.

Bergey Windpower is not the only repeat CIP awardee. Among the 11 companies selected for 2022–2023 awards, only one is new to CIP.

“Through this 2022–2023 round of funding, CIP is building on past work for all but one project,” Summerville said. “Continuous CIP support is moving companies toward a goal of deploying more turbines at lower costs so that distributed wind energy can complement solar photovoltaics as a main U.S. distributed energy resource.”

With its 2022–2023 CIP award, Bergey Windpower plans to develop a financing solution that will accelerate adoption of the Excel 15 wind turbine in rural residential markets.

“While we have experienced amazing success thanks to CIP support, our journey is not over yet,” Bergey said. “Now we’ll focus on developing new financing solutions, ramping up production of turbines, finalizing certification of our new advanced inverter, and bringing a new, affordable ‘whole-house’ residential microgrid system to market.”

Learn more about CIP and subscribe to NREL’s wind energy newsletter for more news like this.

Tags: Manufacturing,Wind