More than 50 industry, academic, and government representatives from 25 states plus Washington, DC, and Canada joined to work together in a new way to inaugurate the Sustainable Manufacturing Advanced Research and Technology (SMART) Wind Consortium on October 16 in Albany, New York.
Hosted by the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA), the event marked the launch of a new distributed wind technology road-mapping effort that will focus on overcoming manufacturing gaps and barriers to drive down costs and open new market opportunities.
“Partnering together with other U.S. distributed wind manufacturing leaders will energize and enhance the sector, helping us all capture more business and grow our market share,” noted Gary Kanaby with Wetzel Engineering Inc., a wind turbine system engineering firm and supplier of small blades. “Convening the SMART Wind Consortium is a great first step in building global competitiveness for the U.S. distributed wind industry.”
DWEA received a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMTech) Program grant award earlier this year to establish the SMART Wind Consortium and develop a consensus-based Roadmap for distributed wind. Attendees were tasked with helping to identify the project scope and structure.
Dr. Tom Lettieri, Project Manager for the NIST/AMTech program, opened the gathering by introducing NIST programs in manufacturing innovation. U.S. Department of Energy Distributed Wind Analyst Bret Barker summarized DOE projects and efforts in the area of distributed wind, including the Competitiveness Improvement Project. Ben Vickery of NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Tom Bell a NIST MEP Affiliate, and Tara Rice, with the Rural Council “Made in Rural America” Initiative then described other manufacturing-related federal activities and opportunities for distributed wind. Attendees also learned about the latest distributed wind energy research conducted at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and gained helpful insights into “lean” systems thinking.
DWEA’s Executive Director Jennifer Jenkins and SMART Wind Project Manager Heather Rhoads-Weaver of eFormative Options provided an overview of project plans, roles, and expectations for participants, including requirements for foreign-owned companies. Technical Co-Leads Trudy Forsyth of Wind Advisors Team and Brent Summerville of Summerville Wind and Sun reported on questionnaire responses provided by nearly 100 stakeholders, including overviews of OEM Steering Group member companies’ products, skillsets, tooling, facilities, vendors, quality assurance, and current challenges.
Leads for the four SMART Wind Subgroups (Mechanical, Electrical, Composites and Support Structures) introduced their areas of expertise and research opportunities available to support innovative technology solutions for the full distributed wind supply chain. OEM Steering Group members concluded the Launch event with continued dialogue over dinner, sharing valuable feedback for upcoming face-to-face Subgroup kickoff meetings and to guide the SMART Wind road-mapping efforts to build a stronger U.S. manufacturing base. Subgroup kick-off meetings will be conducted during November through March, with registration details available here.
Several attendees noted the value of diverse expertise among the Consortium participants and the importance of collaboration to ensure the success of the industry. The presentation slides can be viewed on the event webpage.