Wind energy currently makes up 2% of the total energy generation in the United States, but there is the potential for it to provide up to 20% with the right improvements in turbine technology, forecasting, energy storage, and expansion of transmission systems.
So it is great to see that the U.S. lawmakers are starting to focus on this area. Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009. The bill, if eventually signed into law, would authorize a comprehensive program to improve the efficiency, reliability and cost effectiveness of domestic wind energy systems.
The bill would authorize the Secretary of Energy to carry out a program of research and development to improve the energy efficiency, reliability, and capacity of wind turbines; optimize the design and adaptability of wind energy systems; and reduce the cost of construction, generation, and maintenance of wind energy systems.
Specifically, this program would include:
- Examination of new materials and designs to make larger, lighter, less expensive, and more reliable motor blades
- Technologies to improve gearbox performance and reliability
- Technologies to improve transmission from remotely located renewable resource rich areas
- Low-cost transportable towers greater than 100 meters in height
- Advanced computational modeling tools, control systems, blade sensors and advanced generators
- Wind technology for offshore applications
- Automation, materials, and assembly of large-scale components
- Methods to assess and mitigate the effects of wind energy systems on radar and electromagnetic fields
- Wind turbines with a maximum electric power production capacity of 100 kilowatts or less
The bill authorizes $200 million dollars per year from 2010 through 2014 for these programs.
Let’s hope this bill, or something like it, makes it way into law.
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