Our job was to show the Composites Caucus what a key role composites play in this industry. Without composites, we wouldn’t be able to capture wind in a cost-effective but lightweight and strong manner. Composites are used throughout the turbine as well. Pete highlighted the variety of composite processes from other industries that enable the critical parts of a turbine to be formed. Besides, he cites that one of his facilities is a ¼ mile long. Imagine! And this one is not yet building the large off-shore turbines!
Our industry has the history and breadth necessary for innovation to solve the future problems and to provide the jobs years to come. My point is that the supply chain, large companies like mine and others also benefit. We have the jobs making the fiberglass and resin and core and parts – we are the manufacturing sector. Isn’t this where we want to lead? And we need stable policy to foster investment, to foster growth to continue to do so.
Bob talked about the high labor costs today and the further need for innovation. Composites can continue to provide novel solutions. Let’s industrialize the process for wind energy component manufacturing. Let’s make new combinations of materials to continue to solve the challenges for off shore, so we can put the U.S. back into a leadership position. Without a goal or vision, we can’t make this happen. We need the support of our government. And we have the tools, collaboration or a composite on a different level: industry+university+national labs. This is the right approach.
There were about 15 staffers in the room with a total of 34 people in attendance. I looked around to see who was listening and who had other things on their mind. At the end of the discussion we had a chance to speak to some of the staffers. I wish I had more time with them. One staffer wanted to know about supporting facilities in his community and the importance of innovation: Would it take too many jobs away? And what about the cost of setting up a new plant? Certainly investment is needed, but without policy, it’s hard for newcomers or smaller companies to commit the financial resources.
Another staffer had a bill he was proposing. Once someone mentions bill, you write it down. He asked asking for support and feedback. This bill was a give-and-take between gas and wind. I have to agree, better balance between all energy sources is needed. We have to find a way to share. I prefer energy coming from many places, so how can we better foster good for all industries?