Officials from the US Department of Energy (DOE) joined industry representatives and managers from DOE’s mational laboratories to celebrate the latest tool to advance the department’s wind-energy research: a state-of-the-art wind turbine installed at the DOE’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. The turbine, which is the first large-scale wind turbine fully owned by DOE, will serve as a platform for research projects aimed at improving the performance of wind technology and lowering the costs of wind energy.

“As our nation increases its reliance on clean, renewable energy, we turn again to wind, one of mankind’s oldest power sources,” said Mark Handschy, senior adviser to DOE’s Undersecretary Kristina Johnson. “This turbine provides the Department of Energy with a research facility dedicated to understanding the fundamentals of the new uses we’re making of this trusted resource.”

The 1.5-megawatt turbine, informally known as the “DOE 1.5,” will generate power for facilities at the NWTC and will also feed electricity back into the local grid. The celebration of the DOE 1.5 turbine gathered participants from DOE’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program and the national laboratories to discuss ways to use the turbine as a testbed for future research projects.

“This turbine provides the foundation for long-term collaborative research with our DOE, university and industry partners,” said Fort Felker, NWTC director.

The DOE has invested more than $5 million since 2008 to procure and install this wind turbine, which GE manufactured. GE delivered the turbine to the NWTC in December 2008, and it was installed between July and September of 2009. The center has created a video of the installation of the turbine that shows the steps involved in installing a modern utility-scale wind turbine.

The research this turbine makes possible will help address the barriers to supplying 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from wind energy by 2030.