Competitiveness Improvement Project

The Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP) provides financial and technical support to manufacturers of small wind turbines.

Small wind turbine towering over a farm.

The distributed wind energy industry requires rapid innovation to reduce costs and increase customer confidence, but many companies that build small and mid-sized wind turbines lack the resources to develop, certify, and commercialize next-generation technology.

Managed by NREL on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office, CIP awards cost-shared subcontracts and technical support to manufacturers of small and medium-sized wind turbines. Designed to make distributed wind energy technologies more cost-competitive and reliable, these awards help manufacturers of wind turbines less than 1 megawatt in capacity to:

  • Optimize their designs
  • Develop advanced manufacturing processes
  • Perform turbine and component testing and certification
  • Accelerate pathways for commercialization.

The goals of CIP are to make wind energy cost-competitive with other distributed generation technologies and increase the number of wind turbine designs tested and certified to national standards.

The 2022 CIP request for proposals closed on April 6, 2022.

 

Competitiveness Improvement Project

Since 2012, NREL has awarded

52
subcontracts
25
companies
$12.4M
total U.S. Department of Energy funding
$6.4M
additional
private-sector investment

The Competitiveness Improvement Project supports companies from across the nation.

Why the U.S. Department of Energy Invests in the Competitiveness Improvement Project

Cost reductions, more reliable technologies, and consumer-friendly business models are making distributed energy generation more accessible to businesses and consumers interested in producing their own electricity. DOE investments in CIP to support U.S. leadership in distributed wind energy technologies and advance wind energy as a low-cost distributed generation technology option by:

  • Reducing technology costs
  • Supporting new product innovation
  • Optimizing wind turbines for distributed applications
  • Ensuring that distributed energy consumers have wind energy technology options that are certified for performance and quality.
 

The Competitiveness Improvement Project's Impact

Since its inception in 2012, CIP has awarded 52 subcontracts to 25 companies across the United States, totaling $12.4 million of DOE funding, while leveraging $6.4 million in additional private sector investment.

During that time, CIP has helped more than two dozen small businesses across the United States develop new and innovative distributed wind energy technology. CIP projects have led to distributed wind energy becoming more cost-competitive, improved its interoperability with other distributed energy resources, and increased the number of small and mid-scale wind turbine designs tested to national standards.

Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP): Examples of Continuous Improvement

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory, over the course of this effort ...

Bergey Windpower (BWP) doubled annual energy production with the Excel 15

2x

with a reduction in levelized cost of energy of

50%+
(~$0.13/kilowatt-hour)
2012

BWP produced this 10-kilowatt workhorse wind turbine for 30 years.

2013

Under CIP, BWP conducted a complete redesign of the turbine.

2014

Under CIP, BWP partnered with Intergrid and greatly expanded the control and functionality of the turbine power electronics with a small additional cost.

2015

BWP started certification testing of a new 15-kilowatt model to U.S. standards.

2017

BWP developed a new tower and foundation to reduce installed costs.

2019

BWP requested CIP funding to expand the applications for use of the 15-kilowatt turbine focusing on microgrid markets.

Common Award Topics

NREL has conducted requests for proposals for the following award topics. The selection of topics is guided by available funds and input from the wind energy industry about specific areas of concern. Each CIP solicitation cycle may not include every one of these categories.

These projects focus on moving original concepts from the preliminary design phase to development of a production prototype that can be evaluated. The goal is to develop a final prototype wind turbine design ready for manufacturing and prototype testing.

These projects support the construction and installation of a production prototype of the full wind turbine system that is ready for field or dynamometer testing.

These projects validate a prototype wind turbine to determine the commercial readiness of the turbine system. These results are intended to confirm turbine designs or improvements that are ready for certification testing.

These projects support innovation in existing wind energy generator designs to improve components, leading to a reduced levelized cost of energy.

These projects support improvements in existing wind energy generator designs to optimize the full system or a subsystem of components, leading to a reduced levelized cost of energy.

 

These projects evaluate turbines with a peak power up to 150 kW with a focus on certification to the American Clean Power Association 101-1 standard and can also include listing to electrical safety standards.

 

These projects support wind turbine type certification through the International Electrotechnical Commission System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications. Contracts are for the completion of the design basis evaluation, design evaluation, manufacturing evaluation, and type testing, as well as to ensure turbine conformity and final type certificate. Projects can also include listing to electrical safety standards.

These projects support designing, building, and validating improved manufacturing processes for a defined production of a wind turbine, leading to a reduced levelized cost of energy.

Focused on the development of markets for new products or existing products into new markets, this topic area helps address cost barriers to commercialization and rapid, large-scale deployment of improved distributed wind energy technology.

2021 Competitiveness Improvement Project Workshop

For wind energy manufacturers interested in applying to CIP solicitations, NREL hosted a 4-day virtual workshop in December 2021. Speakers provided an overview of the CIP process, evaluation criteria, certification requirements, and NREL's technical support opportunities.

Access the following workshop recordings for examples of past projects, guidance on choosing the appropriate topic area, and tips for preparing successful proposals and reports.

Workshop Daily Overviews

View Day 1 of the 2021 CIP Informational Workshop, which includes:

  • Overview of CIP with Ian Baring-Gould (NREL) and Bret Barker (DOE Wind Energy Technologies Office)
  • Overview of Potential Topic Areas with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Overview of Prototype Design Development with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Overview of Prototype Manufacture and Installation with Scott Dana (NREL)
  • Overview of Prototype Installation and Testing with Scott Dana (NREL)
  • Overview of Component Innovation and System Optimization with Ian Baring-Gould (NREL)
  • Overview of Small Wind Testing and Certification with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Overview of Type Certification with Jeroen van Dam (NREL)
  • Manufacturing Process Innovation with Dave Snowberg (NREL)
  • Electrical Standards for Grid-Connected Equipment with Brent Summerville (NREL) and Robert Wills (Intergrid).

View Day 2 of the 2021 CIP Informational Workshop, which includes:

  • Introduction and Q&A with Ian Baring-Gould and the rest of the NREL team
  • Review of the new ANSI/ACP 101-1-2021 The Small Wind Turbine Standard with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Test Site and Certification Testing Requirements with Brent Summerville (NREL) and Dean Davis (Windward Engineering)
  • Design Tools for Distributed Wind with Rick Damiani (RRD Engineering)
  • Q&A with Ian Baring-Gould and the rest of the NREL team.

View Day 3 of the 2021 CIP Informational Workshop, which includes:

  • Introduction and Q&A with Ian Baring-Gould and the rest of the NREL team
  • Procurement/Contracting with Kyndall Jackson (NREL)
  • Design Review/Evaluation with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Additional CIP Considerations with Scott Dana (NREL) and Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Has CIP Accomplished the Goals and Objectives It Was Designed To Achieve? with Ian Baring-Gould (NREL) and Bret Barker (DOE Wind Energy Technologies Office)
  • Final Q&A with Ian Baring-Gould (NREL).

Topic Area Recordings

View recorded presentations and discussions from the following 2021 CIP Workshop topic areas.

Prototype Design Development

Prototype Manufacture and Installation

Prototype Installation and Testing

Component Innovations and System Optimization

Manufacturing Process Innovation

Type Certification

Small Wind Testing and Certification

Contact

Brent Summerville

Distributed Wind Energy Systems Engineer

Brent.Summerville@nrel.gov
303-275-4531