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DOE Awards $6.8 Million in Wind Energy Research Projects

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected ten projects totaling $6.8 million that will reduce environmental compliance costs and environmental impacts of land-based and offshore wind energy.

Funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office, these early-stage research projects are key to development of wind energy as part of DOE's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy. Technologies that reduce the impact to bats, birds and other wildlife can lead to less "curtailment" when wind turbines need to be shut down. In turn, this will lead to greater annual energy production and lower wind energy costs.

The projects will develop technology solutions to environmental siting and operational challenges to reduce wind project permitting time and costs, increase the certainty of project development outcomes, and provide more deployment options at reduced costs.

The $6.8 million in funding will be invested in three areas:

1) Four projects will receive $2.8 million to further the advancement of smart curtailment strategies to minimize energy loss from curtailment and wind farm environmental impacts to bats.

  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), of Palo Alto, California will field-test their new technology which makes automated decisions to curtail wind turbines based on real-time wind speed and bat acoustic data.
  • American Wind Wildlife Institute of Washington, D.C. will develop and evaluate a predictive bat risk model that correlates bat risk with various environmental and weather variables, and integrate this model into a smart curtailment program in wind turbine software.
  • Stantec Consulting Services of Topsham, Maine will develop a predictive model that links measured bat risk factors to the effectiveness of smart curtailment regimes.
  • Natural Power of Saratoga Springs, New York will develop a novel technology to reduce bat fatalities using real-time data on bat presence and wind speed, which can easily integrate with any wind turbine control system.

2) Three projects will receive $1.4 million to advance the commercial readiness of bat deterrent technologies to minimize the need for curtailment.

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory of Golden, Colorado will improve the effectiveness of an ultrasonic acoustic deterrent that will keep bats away from wind turbines.
  • General Electric Renewable Energy of Greenville, South Carolina will evaluate the relative effectiveness of ultrasonic deterrence versus wind turbine curtailment for different bat species.
  • Iowa State University of Ames, Iowa will design a passive, blade-mounted ultrasonic bat deterrent device capable of producing a broad spectrum of ultrasonic tones.

3) Three projects will receive $2.5 million to develop and validate pre and post-construction monitoring and mitigation solutions for the offshore wind environment to ease regulatory barriers to deployment.

  • SMRU Consulting of Friday Harbor, Washington will develop a cost-effective, reliable network of easily-deployed coastal buoys to monitor North Atlantic Right Whales. The project will validate models of noise produced by offshore wind construction activities.
  • Oregon State University of Corvallis, Oregon will design, build, and test an autonomous monitoring system to accurately detect avian and bat collisions with offshore wind turbines. The system will combine microphones and 360º cameras with analysis software to detect and verify impacts.
  • Western EcoSystems Technology of Cheyenne, Wyoming will further develop and test an advanced bat and bird collision detection system which combines turbine blade vibration sensors with cameras to quantify impacts.

With cost-share by the project partners, the projects will total $10.2 million. For more information visit DOE's Wind Energy Technologies Office web site.

Note: This Progress Alert was initially posted March 13, 2019, and was updated August 27, 2019.