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Department of Energy to Invest up to $4 Million for Wind Turbine Blade Testing Facilities

June 25, 2007 - 2:07pm

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New facilities in Massachusetts and Texas will bring cutting-edge technology to wind research

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that DOE has selected the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership in Massachusetts, and the Lone Star Wind Alliance in Texas, to each receive up to $2 million in test equipment to develop large-scale wind blade test facilities, accelerating the commercial availability of wind energy.  These consortia have been selected to negotiate cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) to design, build, and operate new facilities to test the next generation of wind turbine blades.  Facilities are expected to be operational in 2009.  Promoting the use of wind energy is an integral part of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, which seeks to change the way we power this nation by increasing the use of clean, renewable energy sources.

"These two testing facilities represent an important next step in the expansion of competitiveness of the U.S. domestic wind energy industry," Secretary Bodman said, while hosting a press conference with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.  "We congratulate Massachusetts and Texas for their outstanding proposals and we believe this work will build upon the Administration's goal of prompting states to research, develop and deploy more clean energy technologies."

The states' consortia were selected to enter into agreements with DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to build facilities to test large wind blades, with an ultimate goal of testing blades up to 330 ft. (100m) in length.  NREL will work with states to provide equipment and technical assistance for development and operation.  This capability will help the rapidly growing wind industry achieve President Bush's vision that wind energy has the potential to supply up to 20% of the electricity consumption of the United States.

Including the DOE investment, total project costs of each test facility will total approximately $20 million.  The DOE investment (Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009) is subject to Congressional appropriations.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership has pledged $13 million in grants and loans for construction and startup costs, and has established reserve funding of $5 million for future blade design research and testing.  The Lone Star Wind Alliance has pledged approximately $18 million from state and private sources for initial capital and startup costs.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership proposes to build a test facility at the Boston Autoport in Boston Harbor.  This Partnership includes: the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative; University of Massachusetts; the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Development; the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; and the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The Lone Star Wind Alliance proposes to build a test facility in Ingleside, Texas.  This Alliance includes: the University of Houston; the Texas General Land Office; Texas Workforce Commission; Texas State Energy Conservation Office; Texas A&M University; Texas Tech University; University of Texas-Austin; West Texas A&M University; Montana State University; Stanford University; New Mexico State University; Old Dominion University; the Houston Advanced Research Center; BP; DOW; Huntsman; and Shell Wind.

Blade testing is required to meet wind turbine design standards, reduce machine cost, and reduce the technical and financial risk of deploying mass-produced wind turbine models.  Rapid growth in wind turbine size over the past two decades has outgrown the existing capabilities of the DOE-NREL's National Wind Technology Center, which operates the only blade test facility in North America capable of performing full-scale testing of megawatt-scale wind turbine blades.

Six applications for the CRADA opportunity were received from partnerships throughout the United States.  The applications were reviewed by a technical panel comprised of DOE National Laboratory and wind industry energy experts.

Building upon President Bush's commitment to develop and promote increased use of renewable energy, last month, DOE issued its first Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends: 2006.  This Report provides a detailed and comprehensive overview of development and trends in the U.S. wind power market.  Most notably, the Report concludes that U.S. wind power capacity increased by 27 percent in 2006; and that the U.S. had the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world in 2005 and 2006.  More than 61 percent of the U.S.'s total wind capacity - over 7,300 Megawatts (MW) - has been installed since President Bush took office in 2001.  View the Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends: 2006.

Additional information is available on the Department of Energy's homepage.

Media contact(s):

Julie Ruggiero, (202) 586-4940

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