The United States’ distributed wind market is at the same infancy stage in 2019 as it was in 2000.
But now there’s a strategic vision for growing the market thanks to the U.S Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Windurance is now part of a solution to enable that vision, thanks to an NREL renewable energy research project subcontract. We were selected from a pool of proposals to help bring a renewable energy future to reality.
Why Windurance? We showed the ability to reduce the wind LCOE (levelized cost of energy) generated by a 100kW wind turbine through the use of a unique and miniaturized Windurance blade pitch actuator. Through the application of this subcontract, Windurance intends to reduce the cost of an actuator system to less than 50% of its current cost — while continuing to grow the same innovative features that make it world-leading.
Attacking Distributed Wind LCOE
Expanding distributed wind in the United States is about job growth and investing in America’s energy future. By reducing wind LCOE without raising capital costs, Windurance is positioned to help that happen, alongside NREL.
Based in Colorado, NREL is a Department of Energy-funded national laboratory focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. The Department of Energy (DOE) is encouraging the development of a domestic distributed wind market and the supply chains to support it.
This strategy goes hand in hand with the SMART Wind Roadmap. This gameplan, led by the Distributed Wind Energy Association, identifies research and manufacturing gaps and barriers, prioritizes solutions, and facilitates innovation in American-made wind turbines.
To make things happen, DOE asked NREL to solicit “competitiveness improvement projects.” Windurance’s submission was a reimagining of our blade pitch actuator technology.
Windurance was able to reduce the LCOE for a 100 kW wind turbine by modifying our existing mini-PITCH product. To make this one-of-a-kind technology compatible with distributed-scale turbines, we miniaturized it even more! Essentially, we’ve put the big-boy toys on small turbines and done so cost-effectively.
Problem & Solution
The numerous advantages of variable blade pitch control in wind turbines are well established by now. The opportunity to deliver increased energy production is chief among those advantages. Also significant is the use of advanced control strategies — enabled by blade pitch actuation — to lessen damaging fatigue loads in structures and drivetrains, and historical condition monitoring to monitor a site that would not have full-time technicians. These improvements vs. stall-regulated systems and lesser pitch-controlled systems open opportunities for turbine OEMs and designers to cut wind system component costs.
However, the cost and complexity of pitch actuators do not decrease proportionally as the size of a wind turbine decreases. That’s why Windurance tasked itself with reducing LCOE for distributed wind systems by establishing a miniPitch model that’s:
- Virtually maintenance-free
- Fully featured
In addition to lowering the cost by more than 50%, we reduced the actuator’s volume by 70.5%.
Now great technology will be more accessible to commercial and industrial customers interested in self-generating their power.
The Future of Your Energy
With this 14-month shared funding program, we’ve been able to devote time and engineering resources into growing distributed wind across America.
We’re in the process of fitting the circuit boards into the design as we speak. NREL should have a testable system in its hands very soon.
Hopefully it’ll be in your hands not long after that!