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.

2022–2023 Project Selections

The U.S. Department of Energy and NREL announced the 12 projects selected from the November 2022 request-for-proposals submissions for 2022–2023 CIP awards. 

These historic funding levels and number of projects were made possible by combining fiscal year funding from 2022 and 2023. For this reason, NREL will not open a CIP solicitation in 2023 with the next request for proposals being planned for 2024.

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 MW 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 latest CIP request for proposals closed on April 6, 2022; awardees for 2022 and 2023 combined were announced on Dec. 15, 2022. The next call for proposals will be in 2024. Review a February 2023 slide-deck overview of CIP’s goals, history, 2022–2023 awardees, and future.

Competitiveness Improvement Project

Since 2012, NREL will have awarded:

total U.S. Department of Energy funding
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

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.

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 made distributed wind energy 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 Co. (BWP) doubled annual energy production with the Excel 15 wind turbine,


which reduced the levelized cost of energy by


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


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


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


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


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


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


BWP focused on optimizing its permanent magnet alternator, reducing its cost by 26% and leading to an 8% reduction in total system manufacturing costs.


Taking advantage of the newest CIP topic area, BWP will develop a financing solution to accelerate the pace of rural residential market sales.

Common Award Topics and Recent Project Examples

NREL has conducted requests for proposals for the following award topics. Examples of projects funded in each topic are included.

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 category.

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.

Learn about Accelerate Wind Inc.'s 2021 project.

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.

Learn about Pecos Wind Power Inc.'s 2021 project.

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.

Learn about: 

Sonsight Wind's 2021 project

XFlow Energy Co.'s 2021 project.

These projects support innovation in existing components—such as controllers, inverters, alternators, rotor blades, or towers—to lower costs and/or improve production. Projects can also include development of turbine components that will allow the wind turbine to enter new market areas.

Learn about:

Bergey Windpower's 2021 project

Siva Powers America's 2021 project

Windurance LLC's 2021 project

Carter Wind Turbines' 2020 project

Windurance LLC's 2020 project.

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.

Learn about:

Carter Wind Turbines' 2020 project

Pecos Wind Power's 2020 project.

These projects evaluate turbines with a rotor swept area less than or equal to 200 m2, applying the International Electrotechnical Commission 61400-2:2013 standard, American Clean Power Association 101-1 standard, or both, and can also include listing to Underwriters Laboratories standards.

Learn about:

Intergrid LLC's 2021 project

Star Wind Turbines' 2020 project

QED Wind Power's 2020 project.

These projects consider turbines with rotor swept area greater than 200 m2. Contracts are for the completion of the design basis evaluation, design evaluation, and manufacturing evaluation and to ensure turbine conformity and final type certificate to the International Electrotechnical Commission 61400-1 standard.

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 topic area presentations and discussions, examples of past projects, guidance on choosing the appropriate topic area, and tips for preparing successful proposals and reports.

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).


Brent Summerville

Distributed Wind Energy Systems Engineer