Using wind as a distributed energy resource has long been a dream for researchers and engineers; now, they’re trying to turn it into a reality. Dozens of small businesses across the country have joined forces with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to determine how best to enable wind energy as a distributed energy source. Called the Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP), the group is determined to take distributed wind and make it energy cost-competitive. Additionally, experts hope to increase the number of small and mid-scale wind turbine designs that meet national testing standards; they are also investigating ways to improve the interoperability of wind energy with other available distributed energy sources.
The CIP was first launched back in 2013, with funding from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office. It helps to support manufacturers of distributed wind turbines through funding support and cost-shared funding. Awardees are typically small businesses, and funding is competitively awarded.
The funding is generally used to improve and optimize the designs of the wind turbines, allowing for improved grid support and increased energy productivity. The CIP also helps to test turbines and ensure components meet national standards as a way to regulate both safety and performance. Additionally, the organization works to develop advanced manufacturing processes that can help to reduce hardware costs. Besides funding support, involved small businesses can also receive outside technical assistance to help them improve both their testing plans and turbine designs.
Among the businesses that received awards from the CIP this year is Bergey Windpower from Oklahoma, which is working to develop a microgrid system based on the 15 kW turbine. The microgrid system will be rapidly deployable as well as combine with diesel generation and battery storage. Another business working on wind energy is Ducted Turbines out of New York.
Researchers will work on the pre-prototype design for the 3-kW wind system, focusing on developing a detailed technical review of the preliminary design as well as an in-depth investigation into the initial testing results. Other businesses will be working to develop remote microgrid applications, building-integrated wind generation concepts with no outside moving parts, and other ways in which small businesses might take full advantage of wind energy in the future.