About National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL, is the only national laboratory solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Small Business Vouchers Pilot, NREL will connect clean energy innovators across the country with top-notch researchers, engineers, and analysts, as well as world-class facilities for research focusing on wind research.
NREL's Wind Research Program conducts its research at DOE's National Wind Technology Center [NWTC]. The 305-acre site experiences diverse and vigorous wind patterns—more than 100 miles per hour—making it an ideal setting for conducting research on the reliability and performance of wind turbines. The NWTC comprises the necessary infrastructure, highly experienced staff, and state-of-the-art equipment needed to provide its partners and stakeholders with a full spectrum of research and development capabilities to develop everything at one location—from small residential wind turbines and components to utility-scale offshore wind technologies.
With the NWTC, partners can:
- Validate wind energy components and systems to improve designs and reduce risk
- Conduct in-depth analyses to better understand economic performance and drivers
- Employ high-performance simulation tools to produce realistic models of wind technologies in complex environments
- Analyze turbine connectivity with the utility grid to increase the amount of variable generation
- Collaborate with experts to develop innovative technologies and accelerate time to market.
NREL provides industry, government, and university researchers with access to state-of-the-art and unique equipment for analyzing a wide spectrum of energy efficiency technologies and innovations.
NREL wind facilities include:
- Dynamometer research facilities: The NWTC operates two of the few multimegawatt wind-energy-specific dynamometers in the world. These facilities allow engineers to conduct analyses on the mechanical and electrical systems of a wind turbine. The NWTC hosts three dynamometers—225 kilowatts, 2.5 megawatts, and 5 megawatts—that are capable of testing the performance of wind turbine drivetrains.
- Field test sites: Manufacturers can take advantage of NREL's numerous test pads and the technical expertise of its staff to field test prototypes of small and large wind turbines.
- National Wind Technology Center (NWTC): This facility is at the forefront of energy innovation. NREL researchers have built unparalleled expertise in renewable energy technologies while supporting the nation's vision that wind energy can provide clean, reliable, and cost-effective electricity.
- Regional test centers (RTCs): These DOE-funded test centers provide technical assistance to support the U.S. small wind turbine market. Test results are used by certification bodies to certify small wind turbines for both mechanical strength and performance.
- Structural testing laboratory: This laboratory provides space for assembling small- and large-scale components and turbines for atmospheric testing. NWTC researchers can perform property, static, and fatigue tests required by blade manufacturers to certify blade and wind turbine designs.