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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced funding for projects led by four U.S. companies that will aim to drive down the cost of small and midsize wind energy systems.

Through the second round of the Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP), the teams will receive a total of $1.35 million between them. In support of the DOE's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, this funding will help U.S. manufacturers improve their turbine designs and manufacturing processes to reduce hardware costs, boost efficiency and eventually earn certification from accredited third-party bodies.

The DOE notes that although distributed wind systems can range in size from 5 kW to multiple megawatts, the CIP focuses on small and midsize turbines up to 250 kW in rated capacity. The following companies will receive funding:

- Pika Energy of Westbrook, Maine, will improve the performance of its existing components and manufacturing process. Pika will scale up its existing turbine components to roughly twice their current size to produce a turbine capable of producing more energy at a reduced end-user cost. The company will also implement the use of an injection molding technique for manufacturing in order to produce lighter and stronger components.

- Northern Power Systems of Barre, Vt., will develop and deploy a blade designed for low-wind-speed applications. The company will also model and test an advanced control method that will help increase the amount of energy produced by its turbine.

- Endurance Wind Power of Spanish Forks, Utah, will test the prototype of its expanded rotor that allows for a larger wind-sweep area, leading to a more efficient turbine.

- Urban Green Energy of New York City will test its vertical-axis wind turbine against the American Wind Energy Association’s Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard.

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