Competitiveness Improvement Project

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

Wind tubines at dusk

Proposals for 2024

The 2024 CIP request for proposals closed on April 5, 2024. Archived request for proposal materials can be found at

The distributed wind energy industry requires rapid innovation to reduce costs and increase customer confidence, but many companies that build small- and medium-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 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. Review a February 2023 slide-deck overview of CIP’s goals, history, 2022–2023 awardees, and future.

Competitiveness Improvement Project

Since 2012, NREL has 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 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

NREL has 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 medium-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: 

RRD Engineering's 2022 project

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: 

Sonsight Wind's 2022 project

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: 

Windward Engineering's 2022 project

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:

Carter Wind Turbines' 2022 project

Windurance LLC’s 2022 Project

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:

XFlow Energy Company’s 2022 project

Carter Wind Turbines' 2020 project

Pecos Wind Power's 2020 project.

These projects apply to turbines up to 150 kW peak power seeking certification to ANSI/ACP 101-1-2021 The Small Wind Turbine Standard. The effort may also include work to List the turbine assembly or component(s) to applicable electrical safety standards.

Learn about:

NPS Solutions' 2022 project

2022 Small Turbine Certification Awardee: Ryse Energy LLC - Americas

Intergrid LLC's 2021 project

Star Wind Turbines' 2020 project

QED Wind Power's 2020 project.

These projects apply to turbines up to 1 MW rated power seeking type certification through the IECRE System (IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications). The effort may also include work to List the turbine assembly or component(s) to applicable electrical safety standards.

These projects address the need for listed inverters built and tested specifically for small- and medium-scale wind turbines.

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. Projects should focus on key market opportunities identified in NREL’s 2022 Distributed Wind Futures Study, including rural and agricultural markets.

Learn about: 

Bergey Windpower's 2022 project

Eocycle America Corp.'s 2022 project.

2023 Competitiveness Improvement Project Informational Workshop

Designed for distributed wind energy technology suppliers interested in applying to CIP solicitations in 2024, NREL hosted a 3-day virtual workshop in November 2023. Speakers provided an overview of the CIP process, topic areas, evaluation criteria, certification and testing requirements, and 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 2023 CIP Informational Workshop on YouTube, which includes:

  • Welcome/Introductions with Ian Baring-Gould (NREL) and Bret Barker (DOE Wind Energy Technologies Office)
  • Overview of CIP with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Overview of Potential Topic Areas
    • Prototype Design Development with Brent Summerville (NREL)
    • Prototype Manufacture and Installation with Scott Dana (NREL)
    • Prototype Installation and Testing with Scott Dana (NREL)
    • Component Innovation and System Optimization with Ian Baring-Gould (NREL)
    • Small Wind Certification and/or Listing with Brent Summerville (NREL)
    • Type Certification and Listing with Jeroen van Dam (NREL)
    • Manufacturing Process Innovation with Dave Snowberg (NREL)
    • Product Commercialization and Market Development with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Listing of Distributed Wind Technology to Electrical Standards with Joe Spossey (RE Innovations)

View Day 2 of the 2023 CIP Informational Workshop on YouTube, which includes:

  • Welcome Back and Questions with Brent Summerville and NREL Team
  • Small/Medium Wind Turbine Standards: ANSI/ACP 101-1-2021, IEC 61400-2, and IECRE with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • ICC-SWCC Turbine Certification (Small Wind Certification Council)
  • Test Site and Certification Testing Requirements with Dean Davis (Windward Engineering)
  • Design Review/Evaluation with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • Questions (standards, field testing, design tools) with Brent Summerville (NREL)

View Day 3 of the 2023 CIP Informational Workshop on YouTube, which includes:

  • Welcome Back and Questions with Brent Summerville and NREL Team
  • Procurement/Contracting with Kyndall Jackson (NREL)
  • Design Tools for Distributed Wind with Drew Gertz (Northwind Engineering)
  • Additional CIP Considerations
    • Opportunities for Technical Assistance with Scott Dana (NREL)
    • Overview of Deliverables and Outreach Materials with Brent Summerville (NREL)
    • Levelized Cost of Energy Tool with Brent Summerville (NREL)
    • Proposal Development Support and Teaming Opportunities with Brent Summerville (NREL)
  • CIP Discussion and Concept Papers with Brent Summerville (NREL) and Ian Baring-Gould (NREL)


Brent Summerville

Distributed Wind Energy Systems Engineer