Vestas CEO Says U.S. is Prime for Wind Power Investment
“The potential over here is enormous,” says Vestas President and CEO Ditlev Engel in regard to the United States’ wind power market. With strong wind corridors stretching from Texas through to North Dakota, plenty of wide-open land, and some of the most ideal coastal wind conditions for offshore wind farms, the U.S. is well suited for a wind power revolution.
Just a few years back, Vestas—an industry-leading wind turbine manufacturer based in Denmark—decided to invest in a U.S. manufacturing base to serve the wind power needs of North America rather than import turbines from China or Europe. In fact, while most assume Chinese manufacturing to be the lowest cost, Vestas has noted that rising cost structures in Asia make the steady cost structures in the United States far more attractive for manufacturing. Not to mention, shipping prices are going through the roof due to oil price hikes, and making wind turbines in the United States for the U.S. market is proven less expensive than to import them.
This equates to more jobs being created for Americans in the growing wind power industry. Vestas employs approximately 3,000 workers throughout the United States and has a large factory in Colorado connected directly to a railroad line for further transportation cost reduction. Secondary employment is extended through the various suppliers that Vestas relies on for parts, which come from 30 U.S. states.
"Our view is that the competition will further intensify, so being in the region for the region is important for us," Engel said. "If Vestas had not gone down this path, it would have been very difficult for us."
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Vestas had record turbine orders in 2010 to the tune of 1,880 megawatts. But Engel believes that the industry needs to work harder to convey to U.S. citizens the benefits of wind power. "It seems that many people can more easily relate to a lot of oil in the ground than to a lot of wind in the air," he says.
Engel also hopes that fears of exporting turbine manufacturing jobs to China will be subdued. "I think the good news from our industry ... is that it is not a worry people need to have. If you want to have more wind in the United States, the best way to do that is make it in the U.S." he says.
Engel does have one big concern, however, that both the private and government sectors will need to address to truly achieve a renewable energy society, and that’s an aging electrical grid. "No doubt transmission is a major concern," he asserts.
Nonetheless, the United States seems poised for a wind power renaissance, and Vestas, along with another domestic wind industry giant, General Electric, will likely lead the race toward a renewable energy society with wind power at the helm.
Sakuu Corporation creates 3D printer for EV batteries
Sakuu Corporation has announced a new industrial-grade 3D printer for e-mobility batteries which it claims will unlock the mainstream adoption of electric vehicles.
Offering an industrial scale ‘local’ battery production capability, Sakuu believes the technology will provide increased manufacturer and consumer confidence. Sakuu’s Alpha Platform for its initial hardware offering will be available in Q4.
Backed by Japanese automotive parts supplier to major OEMs, Musashi Seimitsu, Sakuu is set to enable fast and high-volume production of 3D printed solid-state batteries (SSBs) that, compared with lithium-ion batteries, have the same capacity yet are half the size and almost a third lighter.
The company’s KeraCel-branded SSBs will also use around 30%-50% fewer materials – which can be sourced locally – to achieve the same energy levels as lithium-ion options, significantly reducing production costs. Sakuu anticipates the 3D printer’s attributes being easily transferable to a host of different applications in other industry sectors.
"For the e-mobility markets specifically, we believe this to be a landmark achievement, and one that could transform consumer adoption of electric vehicles,” said Robert Bagheri, Founder, CEO and chairman, Sakuu Corporation. “SSBs are a holy grail technology, but they are both very difficult and expensive to make. By harnessing the flexibility and efficiency-enhancing capabilities of our unique and scalable AM process, we’re enabling battery manufacturers and EV companies to overcome these fundamental pain points."
The ability to provide on-demand, localised production will create more efficient manufacturing operations and shorter supply chains, he added.
Sakuu will initially focus on the two-, three- and smaller four-wheel electric vehicle market for whom the company’s SSB proposition delivers an obvious and desirable combination of small form factor, low weight and improved capacity benefits. The agility of Sakuu’s AM process also means that customers can easily switch production to different battery types and sizes, as necessary, for example to achieve double the energy in the same space or the same energy in half the space.
Beyond energy storage, Sakuu’s development of print capability opens complex end device markets previously closed off to current 3D printing platforms. These include active components like sensors and electric motors for aerospace and automotive; power banks and heatsinks for consumer electronics; PH, temperature and pressure sensors within IoT; and pathogen detectors and microfluidic devices for medical, to name a few.
"As a cheaper, faster, local, customisable and more sustainable method of producing SSBs – which as a product deliver much higher performance attributes than currently available alternatives – the potential of our new platform offers tremendous opportunities to users within energy, as well as a multitude of other markets," said Bagheri.
Ongoing research and new funding collaborations
Omega Seiki, a part of Anglian Omega Group of companies, has partnered with New York-based company C4V to introduce SSBs for EVs and the renewable sector in India. As part of an MoU, the two companies are also looking at the manufacturing of SSBs in the country, according to reports.
Solid Power, which produces solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, recently announced a $130 million Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies. Ford and the BMW Group have also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future EVs. Solid Power plans to begin producing automotive-scale batteries on the company's pilot production line in early 2022.
"Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that's why we're investing directly," said Ted Miller, Ford's manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. "By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we'll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes."
A subsidiary of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest private company, Vinfast has signed an MoU with SSB manufacturer ProLogium - which picked up a bronze award at the recent Edison Awards - to accelerate commercialisation of batteries for EVs (click here).
Xin Li, Associate Professor of Materials Science, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is designing an SSB for ultra-high performance EV applications. The ultimate goal is to design a battery "that outperforms internal combustion engines so electrical vehicles accelerate the transition from fossil-fuel-based energy to renewable energy," according to The Harvard Gazette.
The dramatic increase in EV numbers means that the potential battery market is huge. McKinsey projects that by 2040 battery demand from EVs produced in Europe will reach a total of 1,200GWh per year, which is enough for 80 gigafactories with an average capacity of 15GWh per year.