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United States

Next stage of advanced turbine programme to fund prototypes

The latter part of the third phase of the United States' Advanced Wind Turbine Programme -- Next Generation Product Development -- is getting under way. As much as $20 million will be available for two to three awards over a three-year period. A request for Proposals (RFP) is being released at about the beginning of April, says Bob Thresher, head of the wind programme at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Awards are due to be announced in October.

Another award has also recently been made under the programme. In mid-February, Electronic Power Conditioning of Corvallis, Oregon, won almost $1.2 million to develop a generator for variable speed application, says NREL's Sue Hock. The generator will be doubly fed, so not all its output has to go through an inverter.

Four companies -- Atlantic Orient Corp, Northern Power Systems, Advanced Wind Turbines, and Carter Wind Turbines Inc -- are already being supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) through the NREL in the second phase of the programme. It was begun in 1990 to help the US industry incorporate advanced technology into its wind design.

The third phase, Next Generation Product Development, along with the fourth phase, is to produce prototypes that can generate power for $0.04/kWh by the end of the decade. The first part of the third phase, under which the Electronic Power Conditioning award was made, focuses on innovative components and sub-systems. A total of five awards are expected. The second part, the Turbine Development Programme, just beginning to get under way, is to develop turbines that incorporate these innovations. Six to eight participants will be funded -- to the tune of $1 million in total -- to develop preliminary work plans, budgets and schedules over three to five months for the design, fabrication and testing of prototype turbines for which they must share 30% of the costs. Then two or three will be chosen by DOE to continue with actual turbine development. Direct cost-sharing will be required of at least 30% with a target cost-sharing of 50%.

The first phase of the AWT programme was completed in 1992. It identified and evaluated improvements that were intended to make existing turbines more competitive. The second phase, near-term product development, has been under way since mid-1992. It is to produce power at $0.05/kWh in wind speeds of 13 mph by 1995.

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