The offshore wind turbine launched and developed under the leadership of the US Department of Energy is promising for the future. Also, the relationship between the state and the private sector seems unique.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the White House have announced a goal to deploy 30 Gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, making offshore wind the centerpiece of plans to strengthen the nation’s energy infrastructure. Of course, this requires a huge leap from the current 42 Megawatts. On the other hand, achieving this target would not only power 10 million American homes and reduce CO2 emissions by 78 million tons, but could also support as many as 77,000 new jobs.
The success of this initiative will greatly encourage partnerships to accelerate research and development (R&D) and build new offshore systems in such an ambitious time frame. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is at the center of many of these efforts and is forging new partnerships in offshore wind-related research. NREL has had quality collaborations with industry structures, agencies at all levels of government, and the research community for some time now. In this sense, NFEL also provides insight that solves environmental problems and advances innovations in the industry. For example, 80% of all prototypes for offshore wind platforms were designed with the help of NREL, offshore analysis tools, which were created in collaboration with NREL’s laboratory partners.
Partners entering this business rely on floating platform technologies, which account for 60% of US offshore wind resources overall, and NREL leadership to improve performance and market viability. Also, more recently, laboratory researchers have turned their attention to the integration of offshore wind power with land-based utilities systems to improve grid reliability, flexibility and efficiency. For this, equipment such as submarine cables will be used to carry the transmission of wind energy back to the mainland.
NREL Chief Engineer Jeroen van Dam said collaboration with industries is key to making sure their R&D addresses real-world issues and priorities and helping to transfer scientific knowledge from the lab to the market. He also added that as industry participants making partnerships are given the tools to establish market parity, this is essential for the US to compete with international players.
The nice thing here, of course, is that their labs stand in a position to support their industry rather than compete with their efforts. With this support, sectors will undoubtedly have more objective expertise and verified reliable sources as they venture into these businesses. Thus, in the future, the industry will be able to produce stronger wind turbines with much better technologies and implement new designs.