In addition, the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board finalized a $6 million grant for AWE to focus on the production of spar caps – the backbone of a wind turbine blade. The grant will also be used by Dow for material development and optimization, and by MAG for designing, constructing and demonstrating a prototype automated system for manufacturing the spar cap. Designed to help the state diversify into renewable energy technologies, the state funding matches U.S. federal stimulus funds AWE received in December, 2009.
Monty Bayer, global business director for Dow Ventures & Business Development, Licensing and Venture Capital, says, “Dow is committed to identifying and developing innovative technologies and solutions to improve the viability of alternative energy sources. This collaboration will create enhanced and innovative solutions that we believe will assist in transforming the growing wind energy industry.”
Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm says the project “moves us another step closer to that goal. Our investments in clean energy manufacturing are creating jobs and diversifying Michigan’s economy.”
The demand for wind generated power is driven by a United States Department of Energy (DOE) goal to increase domestic electricity production from wind power by 20 percent over the next 20 years. That mandates requires aggressive turbine volume production.
AWE President Jeff Metts adds, “The state incentive package will enable Astraeus to accelerate production plans of high quality wind turbine components. We are excited to collaborate with Dow and MAG in this endeavor as we attempt to provide better quality solutions to the wind industry.”
Initially, Dow and MAG will focus on the technology for AWE to produce spar caps; long-term, the goal is technology that can be used for both the fabrication of other wind turbine components and assembly of those components into finished wind-turbine blades.
Joe Jones, Executive Vice President of MAG’s Renewable Energy Group, notes, “This joint technology will be built on a solid foundation of MAG’s 30-years of leadership in the development of composite processing systems for the manufacture of aircraft components. Combining our proven, high-tech manufacturing system with Dow’s advanced materials will result in a superior manufacturing solution.”