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US DOE Funds $30 Million in R&D to Speed Up Wind Energy Deployment

DOE research wind energy
DOE is funding R&D on floating wind turbines, transmission and distribution (file photo)

Published Oct 19, 2022 7:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Department of Energy intends to use $30 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund research and development projects that will lower costs for wind energy projects on land and offshore. These investments will bolster the continued growth of wind energy and reinforce its key role as a clean energy resource.

“Wind power is abundant, homegrown, affordable, and already provides enough electricity to power 40 million homes,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “But that is just the start — wind power is poised for explosive growth.” The secretary notes that wind energy accounted for more than nine percent of total domestic electricity generation in 2021 and that DOE’s goal is to “help to break down technology barriers to turbo-charge the deployment of this affordable resource all across the country.” 

DOE’s funding is available for a range of R&D efforts with a focus both on developing floating offshore wind energy installations and the technology needed to better transmit the power to shore. They will also fund efforts to improve the permitting processes to make distributed wind more accessible to communities where it can be cost-effectively deployed as well as efforts to ensure more coastal communities benefit from offshore wind development. Another project will support bat behavioral research, technology development, and field testing to advance bat deterrent technologies to help bats avoid wind turbines.

As part of the announcement, DOE released the details of a Request for Information RFI on research needs for the anchors and mooring systems that attach floating offshore wind structures to the sea floor in deep water. It is the first step to inform future work funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance floating offshore wind toward cost-effective commercialization and domestic manufacturing, including the technologies that keep floating turbines in place at sea.

The administration previously announced these research efforts as it set a goal of deploying 15 GW of floating offshore wind by 2035. In a separate announcement also on October 18, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management set the dates for the first Pacific Coast wind lease auctions, highlighting that the sites would be the first large U.S. commercial installation of floating offshore wind farms.

Another key research effort will focus on advancing technologies needed to transmit large amounts of electricity from offshore wind over long distances. Funding in this topic area ($9.7 million) will support standards for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission for offshore wind, develop and validate controls to ensure reliability and compatibility with alternating current and direct current, and identify and address gaps in education and workforce training to support HVDC transmission deployment for U.S. offshore wind.

According to DOE, these investments will complement ongoing work to enable the innovations needed to advance U.S. wind systems, reduce the cost of electricity, and accelerate the deployment of wind power.