The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced a combined $45 million for two sets of projects that will innovate manufacturing processes for both wind and water energy technologies, both of which are expected to be in increasing demand as they play a crucial role in America’s clean energy transition. These selected projects will support the DoE’s priorities in advancing clean energy applications and energy savings through materials and manufacturing research and development and further support the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate goals to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and achieve a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.
DoE’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) awarded $15 million to GE Research for a project to develop, build, and refine manufacturing practices of large-scale machinery to manufacture hydropower technology using 3D printing. AMMTO also awarded a combined $30 million for 13 projects committed to advancing innovative practices that will reshape the design, materials, and sustainability of manufacturing for wind turbine equipment.
GE Research’s near-net shape manufacturing project will create an end-to-end suite of tools, including a digital foundry, and robotic welding practices. The innovation within this project has the potential to reduce the overall production costs of these enormous hydropower machines by 20% and lead times by four months. In addition, this technology will allow these technologies to be designed, built, and assembled in the United States.
The 13 wind turbine projects focus on three primary topic areas.
For Large Wind Blade Additive Manufacturing – focused on the integration of additive manufacturing techniques specific to the production of large wind blades, enhancing efficiency and adaptability in the blade creation process – the awardees were Collaborative Composite Solutions ($2,000,000); Oak Ridge National Laboratory ($2,000,000); Purdue University ($1,999,578); and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University ($1,996,750).
For Additive Manufacturing of Wind Turbine Components – concentrated on employing advanced additive manufacturing approaches to produce critical components for wind turbines, streamlining production, and allowing for innovative design adaptions – the awardees were GE Research ($1,999,845); Orbital Composites Inc. ($2,000,000); and RCAM Technologies Inc. ($2,000,000).
For Advanced Manufacturing, Materials, and Sustainability – initiatives centered around state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, materials research, and sustainable practices tailored for the development and production of large wind blades, with key areas of interest including automation, digitalization, sustainability, and modular blade construction/joining – the awardees were GE Research ($2,999,995); University of Delaware ($2,970,353); University of Massachusetts Lowell ($3,000,000); University of North Dakota ($3,000,000); The University of Texas at Dallas ($2,721,445); and WEI7 LLC ($1,200,000).
According to the DoE, the demand for enormous wind and water turbine pieces such as hubs and bedplates is estimated to increase at least fivefold in the next decade to meet America’s clean energy goals. As the US domestic manufacturing base continues to ramp up to meet these challenges, this funding will be used to increase the competitiveness of the domestic manufacturing base and strengthen America’s clean energy manufacturing supply chain.
The goals of these projects align with DoE’s Offshore Wind Strategy, the Offshore Wind Supply Chain Road Map, the interagency Floating Offshore Wind Shot, and the priorities identified in DoE’s 2022 Wind Energy Supply Chain Deep Dive Assessment.