The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a USD 30 million funding opportunity to advance the cost-effective domestic manufacturing of materials, including lightweight composites, that could allow wind turbines to produce power more efficiently.
Lightweight composite materials reduce emissions in a variety of ways, including by enabling more efficient wind power generation and lightening the weight of vehicles, making them more fuel efficient, DOE said.
Led by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO), this funding opportunity seeks to improve the manufacturing and performance of composite materials associated with wind energy technology.
Specifically, this funding aims to streamline the additive manufacturing (3-D printing) processes for rapid prototyping, tooling, fabrication, and testing of large wind blades.
It also seeks to apply additive manufacturing with polymers, metals, ceramics, or composite systems to non-blade wind turbine components like those comprising drivetrains or floating offshore wind platforms.
The applicants are required to submit projects that focus on one of the following topic areas:
- Large Wind Blade Additive Manufacturing that builds on existing polymer-based additive manufacturing research that supports and advances more cost-effective large wind turbine blades. Polymer-based additive manufacturing generally allows for rapid prototyping, tooling, fabrication, and testing in support of novel designs and process configurations, DOE said.
- Additive Manufacturing of Non-Blade Wind Turbine Components that can be improved through additive manufacturing and associated design and process integration.
- Large Wind Blades: Advancing Manufacturing, Materials, and Sustainability to address the remaining challenges to wind turbine manufacturing, and build on previous work within the areas of automation, digitalisation, wind blade sustainability, and modular blade construction and joining.
The estimated performance period for the award will be two to three years. Interested parties have until 23 March to submit their concept papers.
The improved materials and manufacturing processes envisioned under this funding opportunity could reduce wind energy costs and expand the deployment of the nation’s wind energy portfolio in support of President Biden’s goals to reach 100 per cent clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050, DOE said.
The US has set the target of reaching 30 GW of operating offshore wind capacity by 2030. Currently, the country has 42 MW of offshore wind capacity in operation.
Projects funded through this initiative will also support priorities established in the recently announced Offshore Wind Supply Chain Road Map and interagency Floating Offshore Wind Shot.
According to a new report co-authored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Business Network for Offshore Wind, half of the US offshore wind energy projects in the pipeline are at risk of being delayed beyond 2030 because of limited port and vessel infrastructure and domestic manufacturing.