The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced projects that will enhance the nation’s ability to implement wind power across the United States. The announcements were made at a press conference as part of the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2008 Conference at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center.

The projects include a new wind turbine blade test facility to be constructed in Texas; a partnership between NREL, DOE and a state consortium led by University of Houston; a signed agreement with Siemens Power Generation to locate and test a commercial-scale wind turbine at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center; and a new Siemens research and development facility in Boulder, Colo., which will work closely with NREL on advanced wind power technologies.

“The projects announced today demonstrate the shared commitment of the federal government and the private sector to achieve 20 percent wind energy by 2030,” said Alexander Karsner, DOE assistant secretary. “To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt scale will be necessary to expand the domestic wind manufacturing base and streamline the permitting process.”

At the Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility in Ingleside, NREL will provide technical and operational assistance, and DOE will fund up to $2 million in capital costs for a state-of-the-art facility capable of testing blades up to at least 230 feet in length. The blade test facility is estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million and is expected to be completed in 2010. The University of Houston will own and operate the structures housing the test facilities.

A similar blade test facility on the East Coast, the Massachusetts-NREL Wind Technology Testing Center at the Harbor of Charleston, Mass., was announced earlier. That facility is a partnership between NREL and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

In the partnership with Siemens Power Generation, a 2.3 megawatt, SWT-2.3-101 commercial wind turbine will be erected at NREL’s 305-acre National Wind Technology Center, where NREL and Siemens researchers will conduct a full array of tests to evaluate existing systems and develop new ones for next-generation technologies. The work, which will be conducted under a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between NREL and Siemens, will encompass power quality, noise emissions, rotor aerodynamics, and load factors during normal operation and under severe operating conditions, all with a goal of improving the overall performance of new turbines.

Simultaneous to its CRADA with NREL, Siemens will construct and begin operation of its first U.S.-based wind technology research and development center, to be located north of the NREL National Wind Technology Center in Boulder.

NREL has been developing and providing specialized blade testing services as part of its broader wind turbine research and development portfolio for more than 20 years at its National Wind Technology Center.