NREL to Partner with University of Delaware on Offshore Wind Power Research

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Delaware (UD) announced they will work to facilitate the potential establishment of a test site for commercial wind turbines off the Delaware coast.

Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) worth $500,000 over the next five years, UD will work with federal and state agencies to identify and meet criteria for establishing any potential offshore test sites. Public involvement is expected to be a key part of the process.

Commercial offshore wind turbines components can be tested separately on land, but before installing multiple full-scale commercial wind turbines, it is prudent for researchers and industry to study one or a small number of complete turbine systems at sites that will expose the wind turbines to typical offshore conditions, such as salt water and mist, wind gusts, and weather events such as northeasters.

As part of the planning and development of a potential offshore wind turbine test site, NREL and UD will develop test procedures specific to the area’s harsh offshore wind environment, and establish methods for predicting wind energy costs in the United States. The partners expect that any test wind turbines would serve as valuable classrooms used to train future wind energy professionals, scientists, and engineers.

“By combining the university’s educational expertise with NREL’s wind technology expertise, we can train future wind energy professionals to provide a skilled workforce for the offshore wind industry,” said Walt Musial, senior project lead at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center.

“We are excited to partner with NREL on technology that will be part of tomorrow’s economy,” said Nancy Targett, dean of UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

“This agreement complements the research and educational opportunities afforded by the coastal wind turbine we recently established at the college’s Lewes, Delaware, campus.”

Should the potential offshore wind turbine test site become a reality, the studies designed by NREL and UD will generate the knowledge and information needed to improve the performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of offshore wind power. Those improvements will in turn reduce maintenance, help increase offshore wind energy deployment, and increase employment for U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The University of Delaware, the flagship institution of the state of Delaware, is one of the oldest Land Grant institutions in the nation, and one of only three institutions to also have Sea Grant and Space Grant status. The university is a state-assisted, privately controlled institution with an enrollment of more than 16,000 undergraduates, 3,500 graduate students and 1,000 professional and continuing study students.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.