HOUSTON (Reuters) - Six leading wind turbine manufacturers signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to find ways to improve turbine design and production methods as the industry attempts to boost its contribution to the nation's electric supply, the energy agency said on Monday.
The memorandum calls for a two-year collaboration to research methods to design and fabricate more reliable turbine components; reduce installation and operating costs; address environmental and technical issues; and to develop turbine certification, workforce and grid connection standards.
Companies that signed the agreement include GE Energy, Siemens Power Generation, Vestas Wind Systems, Clipper Turbine Works, Suzlon Energy and Gamesa Corp, DOE officials said at a press conference at WindPower 2008, an annual conference and exhibit sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association in Houston.
Andy Karsner, DOE assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewables, said the cooperative research effort between the agency and industry shows a "shared commitment" to expand wind's share of the U.S. electric supply from about 2 percent to a 20 percent target by 2030.
"To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary to expand domestic wind manufacturing base and streamline the permitting process," Karsner said.
The U.S added 5,000 megawatts of wind generation capacity last year at an estimated $9 billion, according to AWEA, as states move to mandate renewable power generation. About 1,400 MW was added in the first quarter.
(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady; Editing by Christian Wiessner)