DOE Funds Environmentally Focused Wind Research Projects


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $6.2 million in funding for nine wind energy research projects.

The projects are focused on reducing environmental compliance costs and environmental impacts of onshore and offshore wind.

Funded by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, the early-stage research projects will develop technology solutions to environmental siting and operational challenges to reduce wind project permitting time and costs, increase the certainty of project development outcomes, and provide more deployment options at reduced costs.

The $6.2 million will be invested in three areas:

1) Three projects will receive $2.3 million to further the advancement of smart curtailment strategies to minimize energy loss from curtailment and wind farm environmental impacts to bats.

  • The Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto, Calif., will field-test technology that makes automated decisions to curtail wind turbines based on real-time wind speed and bat acoustic data;
  • The American Wind Wildlife Institute of Washington, D.C., will develop and evaluate a predictive bat risk model that correlates bat risk with environmental and weather variables and will integrate this model into a smart curtailment program in wind turbine software; and
  • Stantec Consulting Services of Topsham, Maine, will develop a predictive model that links measured bat risk factors to the effectiveness of smart curtailment regimes.

2) Three projects will receive $1.4 million to advance the commercial readiness of bat-deterrent technologies to minimize the need for curtailment.

  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of Golden, Colo., will improve the effectiveness of an ultrasonic acoustic deterrent that will keep bats away from wind turbines;
  • GE Renewable Energy of Greenville, S.C., will evaluate the relative effectiveness of ultrasonic deterrence versus wind turbine curtailment for different bat species; and
  • Iowa State University of Ames, Iowa, will design a passive, blade-mounted ultrasonic bat deterrent device capable of producing a broad spectrum of ultrasonic tones.

3) Three projects will receive $2.5 million to develop and validate pre- and post-construction monitoring and mitigation solutions for the offshore wind environment to ease regulatory barriers to deployment.

  • SMRU Consulting of Friday Harbor, Wash., will develop a cost-effective, reliable network of easily deployed coastal buoys to monitor North Atlantic Right Whales. The project will validate models of noise produced by offshore wind construction activities;
  • Oregon State University of Corvallis, Ore., will design, build and test an autonomous monitoring system to accurately detect avian and bat collisions with offshore wind turbines. The system will combine microphones and 360-degree cameras with analysis software to detect and verify impacts; and
  • Western EcoSystems Technology of Cheyenne, Wyo., will further develop and test an advanced bat and bird collision-detection system that combines turbine blade vibration sensors with cameras to quantify impacts.

With cost-share by the project partners, the projects will total $9.5 million, the DOE notes.

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