Technology Innovation

NREL experts pioneered many of the capabilities that have taken wind energy to new heights.

Instrumented gearbox at the National Wind Technology Center.

NREL's computer modeling and experimental capabilities, as well as our deep staff expertise, are guiding wind technologies from initial concepts to deployment. We develop enhanced designs and prognostic technologies that aim to reduce operations and maintenance costs by increasing turbine reliability and plant availability. Whether investigating innovative wind turbine systems and configurations or developing new plant-level control operations, our team has a research portfolio spanning the entire technology innovation pipeline.

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See a summary slide deck of NREL's wind-energy-related technology innovation capabilities, research, and projects. Explore more below.

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Next-Generation Wind Turbines

NREL analyzes innovative wind turbine subsystems and configurations that show promise in our ability to deploy wind energy at levels that can lead a transformation of our energy system. Our team evaluates these novel approaches through numerical modeling and simulation in advance of hardware development, reducing the risk of pursuing potentially game-changing technology.

Areas of Expertise

  • Aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, and structural dynamics
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Systems engineering and optimization
  • High-performance computing

Floating Offshore Wind Energy Systems

NREL's offshore wind turbine research capabilities focus on critical areas that reflect the long-term needs of the industry, including developing innovative controls at the turbine and plant levels, advancing modeling and simulation capabilities to assess and optimize novel designs, and supporting standards development.​

Areas of Expertise

  • Analysis and design of innovative substructures and moorings
  • Advanced modeling capabilities, validation, and optimization
  • Aerodynamics, aeroelasticity; hydrodynamics; mooring systems; structural dynamics and marine architecture
  • Computational fluid dynamics

Plant-Level Control

NREL is researching new control methodologies, such as wake steering and consensus control, for both land-based and offshore wind plants. Advanced wind turbine controls can enable annual energy production and reduce losses by over 20%.

Areas of Expertise

  • Wake control design and analysis
  • Wind plant optimization
  • Turbine modeling and simulation
  • High-performance computing
  • Data analytics and machine learning

Drivetrain Technology, Operations, and Maintenance

NREL develops and verifies advanced drivetrain concepts and innovative bearing, gearbox, and generator technologies. We lead the Drivetrain Reliability Collaborative to increase drivetrain reliability and turbine availability through improved designs and prognostic technology, thereby reducing operations and maintenance costs.

Areas of Expertise

  • Drivetrain innovation
  • Drivetrain modeling, analysis, and validation
  • Prognostics and health management
  • Reliability, operations, and maintenance