Alstom Wind Energy Receives $4 Million DOE Research Grant

Partnership Led by Alstom Wind Power Receives $4 Million DOE Research Grant. Research with Prominent US Institutions Will Help Lower Cost of Offshore Wind Farm.

Alstom and several prominent US-based research institutions have been awarded a $4.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to research and develop advanced control systems and integrated innovative sensors that increase energy production and lower the capital cost of offshore wind turbines—especially those based on advanced floating substructures.

The award was part of over $43 million of grants announced last week by DOE to lower the cost of energy and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems in the United States by speeding technology innovations and removing current market barriers.

The Alstom research project will be conducted in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Lab National Wind Technology Center (NREL NWTC), Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Ships and Platforms Flow (MIT LSPF), and Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (TTU -WISE). It will take place over a five-year period at Alstom offices in Richmond, VA, NWTC’s facility in Boulder, CO, MIT’s laboratory in Cambridge, MA, and TTU’s research facility in Lubbock, TX.

The research will be focused on development and integration of new paradigms in offshore wind turbine control strategies and the integration of innovative technologies in an advanced floating foundation. As such, it will support the development of an optimized, robust and reliable offshore system for a 6MW class wind turbine tailored to the specifics conditions of the United States deep waters. The project includes an intensive validation at Alstom’s existing ECO 86 – 1.67MW and ECO 100 – 3MW units in the US as well as of the first units of the Haliade 150 – 6 MW offshore wind turbine to be installed in 2011 and 2012 in Europe. In doing so, it will help support DOE’s scenario of developing 54GW of offshore wind power by 2030 at a cost of $0.07 per kWh.

Andy Geissbuehler, Vice President and General Manager of Alstom’s North American wind power business, said, “We want to thank DOE for this grant and their continued leadership in promoting the development of offshore wind. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with some of the premiere research institutions in the US to help make offshore wind more cost effective and reliable. The new generation of 6MW offshore wind turbines, whether using fixed or floating foundations, will require advanced control algorithms able to optimize their performance in terms of energy yield, dramatically reduce ultimate and fatigue loads and stabilize the full system dynamic behavior. We are looking forward to contribute to the national effort to deploy offshore wind at the right cost and at the right time.”

Alstom expanded its presence in the North American wind market in May 2010 by announcing the construction of an 115,000 square foot wind turbine nacelle assembly facility in Amarillo, Texas. Alstom has strategic research partnerships with NREL in Boulder, Colorado and the National Institute of Renewable Energy (NIRE) and TTU in Lubbock, Texas that are enabling the introduction of its proven technology to the North American market. The partnership agreement with NREL calls for testing and reporting on the performance of the ALSTOM PURE TORQUE® drive train design. Alstom is collaborating with MIT on the university’s current research on floating foundations for offshore wind.

Alstom designs, assembles and installs a range of onshore wind turbines spanning 1.67 MW to 3 MW and is currently installing 6 MW offshore demonstration units in France. The company is responsible for a significant share of the development of the Spanish wind power market, which is ranked second largest in Europe. About 50% of Alstom’s Wind sales are currently generated from other European countries. To date, the company has installed or is installing over 2200 wind turbines in more than 120 wind farms, corresponding to a total capacity of over 3000 MW.

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. NREL’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) is the nation’s premier wind energy technology research facility. The NWTC is a 305-acre area comprised of field test sites, test laboratory facilities, high-bay work areas, machine shops, electronics and instrumentation laboratories, and office areas. Research into advanced control systems has been conducted at the NWTC under the direction of Dr. Alan Wright, for the past 10 years. In that time, various innovative advanced control paradigms have been developed and demonstrated through simulation and field tests.

Research at the MIT LSPF (Laboratory for Ships and Platforms Flow) led by Professor Paul Sclavounos has over the past 30 years concentrated upon the development of theoretical and computational methods for the hydrodynamic analysis and design of ships, sailing yachts, high-speed vessels and offshore platforms. Over the past 10 years LSPF has concentrated upon the study of the hydrodynamics and dynamics of novel deep-water platform technologies for the support of multi-megawatt offshore wind turbines.

The Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WISE) at TTU has 40 years of experience in conducting wind-related multidisciplinary research and is recognized as an authority in this area. WISE operates a field site situated on 67 acres of land, developed expressly for wind-related testing and monitoring of large-scale structures. Over the years, it has contributed fundamentally to the understanding of wind and its loading on structures as well as its impact on society.