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As part of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiative to drive new levels of performance in wind turbine technology, which will help ensure further U.S. wind industry growth, a GE 1.5-megawatt wind turbine today was commissioned at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) in Boulder, Colo.
Building off the experience of the country’s largest installed turbine base, the GE 1.5 megawatt machine will serve as a platform for research projects aimed at improving the performance of wind turbine technology and lowering the costs of wind energy. The machine will undergo a series of tests and experiments over the next several years, which will produce data to be used by researchers working with the wind industry to increase wind turbine performance and reliability.
“This turbine provides the foundation for long-term collaborative research with our DOE, university, and industry partners,” said Fort Felker, director at the NWTC.
Key areas of research will include power performance testing, gathering and analyzing turbine loading data, designing advanced turbine controls, developing advanced turbine components and studying wind farm performance data.
“We are impressed with the DOE’s leadership in the renewable energy space and we’re excited that our 1.5-megawatt wind turbine has been selected to participate in this important research and development program,” said Victor Abate, vice president for renewables for GE Power & Water. “Finding ways to improve wind turbine reliability and wind forecasting methods will ensure the continued expansion of the wind industry, resulting in economic growth and jobs.”
The workhorse of GE’s wind turbine fleet, the 1.5-megawatt machine is the most widely deployed wind turbine in the world, with more than 12,000 units now installed. It has been the top selling wind turbine in the United States for six straight years, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
The 1.5-megawatt wind turbine will allow the NWTC to conduct research on a utility-scale machine. Previously, only smaller wind turbines have been installed at the center. The NWTC is managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the DOE. GE has been working with NREL and the DOE on wind projects since the company entered the wind business in 2001. In addition to supporting research activities, the turbine will generate power for facilities at the NWTC and also will feed electricity back into the local grid.
Advancing the state of wind turbine technology is a key to meeting the DOE’s goal of generating 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean wind resources by the year 2030. To make wind energy fully cost competitive and increase wind energy development, researchers at the NWTC are working in partnership with industry to develop larger, more efficient, utility-scale wind turbines.
In addition to supporting technology programs such as the DOE initiative, GE continues to work with Congress to further strengthen the renewable electricity standard (RES) and create new American manufacturing jobs, Abate noted. “We urgently need a strong RES to remain competitive with Europe and China, both of which have strong and binding renewable energy commitments, in the race to secure those jobs,” he said.