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With $4.1 million grant, Alstom aims to lower cost of offshore wind energy

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Alstom offers more detail into its $4.1 million federal grant to develop offshore wind turbines for U.S. deep waters.

Another step toward an American offshore wind industry is underway.

Alstom on Monday offered more detail into its $4.1 million federal grant to develop an advanced control system that uses sensors and the design of wind turbines and floating platforms to maximize energy production.

The grant, awarded last week by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a $43 million package intended to get the American offshore wind energy industry going, is focused on developing new algorithms (and a new floating foundation) for a six-megawatt turbine -- Alstom's largest -- in deep U.S. waters.

Alstom's goal: lower the capital cost of offshore wind turbines.

The DOE's goal: bring 54 gigawatts of offshore wind power online by 2030, at a cost of $0.07 per kilowatt-hour.

It's a five-year project in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Ships and Platforms Flow and Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center.

Control algorithms help turbines optimize their performance (and subsequently, energy yield) in different conditions. The researchers seek to reduce load on the turbines, as well as stabilize their behavior.

According to Alstom, extensive testing will be conduction on its ECO 86 and ECO 100 wind turbines installed at NIRE and NREL, respectively, as well as its Haliade 150 wind turbines, six-megawatt models to be installed in Europe in 2011 and 2012.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure