The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded Alstom and several research institutions a $4.1 million grant to research and develop advanced control systems and integrated innovative sensors that increase energy production and lower the capital cost of offshore wind turbines -- especially those based on advanced floating substructures.

The award was part of over $43 million of grants announced last week by DOE to lower the cost of energy and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems in the United States by speeding technology innovations and removing current market barriers.

The Alstom research project will be conducted in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Lab National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Ships and Platforms Flow, and Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (TTU). It will take place over a five-year period at Alstom offices in Richmond, Va., NWTC's facility in Boulder, Colo., MI's laboratory in Cambridge, Mass. and TTU's research facility in Lubbock, Texas.

The research will be focused on development and integration of new paradigms in offshore wind turbine control strategies and the integration of innovative technologies in an advanced floating foundation. As such, it will support the development of an optimized, robust and reliable offshore system for a 6MW class wind turbine tailored to the specifics conditions of the United States deep waters. The project includes an intensive validation at Alstom's existing ECO 86 - 1.67MW and ECO 100 - 3MW units in the US as well as of the first units of the Haliade 150 - 6 MW offshore wind turbine to be installed in 2011 and 2012 in Europe. In doing so, it will help support DOE's scenario of developing 54GW of offshore wind power by 2030 at a cost of $0.07 per kWh.

"The new generation of 6MW offshore wind turbines, whether using fixed or floating foundations, will require advanced control algorithms able to optimize their performance in terms of energy yield, dramatically reduce ultimate and fatigue loads and stabilize the full system dynamic behavior. We are looking forward to contributing to the national effort to deploy offshore wind at the right cost and at the right time," said Andy Geissbuehler, general manager of Alstom's North American wind power business.