The Wind Turbine Company (WTC) of Bellevue, Washington, is testing a 250 kW, two-bladed wind turbine prototype that the company believes can produce electricity for about $0.03/kWh. The turbine is a lightweight model, features a downwind orientation and each blade flexes independently in extreme winds, says WTC's Ken Deering. "A downwind turbine can shed loads, whereas the European style upwind designs must absorb them, and higher loads means more material and higher cost," he says, adding that because it is lighter, the turbine can also sit atop a higher tower. WTC is testing the unit at the National Wind Technology Center, a division of the US Department of Energy (DOE), near Boulder, Colorado. About $15 million of the turbine's development cost is paid by a grant from DOE's Next Generation Development Program (Windpower Monthly, July 1997). California's Public Interest Energy Research Program also awarded $950,000 to WTC in 1998 for development. Once tests are complete, WTC says it aims to build turbines in the 750 kW to 1 MW range that can also produce power at $0.03/kWh.
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