NREL's Small Wind Turbine Project represents the first time in some 15 years that the laboratory, operated by the US Department of Energy (DOE), has funded a programme for small wind turbines. Of the various DOE funded small turbine projects in the early 1970s -- when most of the focus was on huge turbine designs by huge aerospace companies -- none has led to a viable commercial product.
NREL's small turbine project is for systems with a maximum power of 40 kW. The companies will design, build and test prototype small turbines to be field tested at NREL's National Wind Technology Centre near Golden, Colorado. Negotiating the final contracts, which will run for about 30 months, will take several months.