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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has announced a Wind Turbine Commercialisation Initiative to reduce greenhouse gases, according to the laboratory's wind director, Bob Thresher. But funding for the initiative, in the budget for fiscal year 1995, could vary between $18 million and just two-thirds of that amount -- $12.3 million.

The White House has requested the $18 million for the initiative, to help the US meet the goals of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and President Clinton's Climate Change Plan. However, the Senate slashed that request -- which was also approved by the House of Representatives -- to $12.3 million. A conference committee will now iron out the difference of $5.7 million between the two wind budgets, which total $51.7 million and $46 million.

The initiative is to boost the development of new wind plants, says Thresher. NREL wants a high cost-sharing by utilities or independent power producers of 80%, the remaining 20% being provided by the US Department of Energy. Bids must be for wind plants, distributed wind systems or wind hybrid installations of 25 MW or more. "We're trying to buy a little risk off the top to help people get their first wind deal," explains Thresher. The first sub-contract is expected to be announced in early 1995.

In other NREL news, the laboratory has boosted the funding for the next and third phase of its Advanced Wind Turbine Programme. The funding for the Next Generation Turbine System Development phase has been increased from $20 million to $30 million. The cost-sharing component has also been increased from 10% to 30%, says Thresher. Some six to eight sub-contractors will be signed up for four to five months for the first "conceptual design" part of the phase. Then, for "system development," two to three sub-contractors will be signed up. The deadline for proposals for conceptual design has been extended to mid August.

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