$200 Million for Creation of Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute Announced
Happy National Manufacturing Day, everyone!
While it may not be a widely-known holiday even here in the U.S., the Obama administration is certainly celebrating in style.
Speaking at Millennium Steel in Princeton, Indiana, President Barack Obama announced, more than $200 million in public and private investment to create an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute.
The funds will be awarded by the Department of Defense and must be competed for. $100 million of the fund will come from federal investment, while the other half will be from private investment.
According to a White House fact sheet:
Each manufacturing innovation institute serves as a regional hub, bridging the gap between applied research and product development by bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S. This type of “teaching factory” provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.
Both government and industry members hailed this as a new dawn for photonics research, which could have far-reaching applications in a wide variety of sectors including energy—from smart grid tech to utilization of fusion energy.
“Today's announcement by President Obama and Commerce Secretary Pritzker is the highest possible endorsement and acknowledgment of the critical role that the US photonics industry will play in solving many of the present day challenges, creating US jobs, boosting the economy, and enhancing national security," National Photonics Imitative (NPI) Steering Committee Chairman, Dr. Tom Baer said. “The NPI encourages the photonics community to follow these developments closely and continue to provide information and insight requested by the administration.”
The Optical Society’s CEO Elizabeth Rogan was excited about the potential for ever important cooperation.
“Recognition by the administration signifies the NPI's success in bringing together industry and academia to promote the critical importance of photonics,” Rogan said. “The NPI welcomes the opportunity to work with the optics and photonics community to further demonstrate how a photonics-based IMI would serve to strengthen US national and economic security.”
The $200 million in investments is the largest Federal investment to date as, according to the White House, it reflects the complexity of the technology, its importance to national security, and its revolutionary potential.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.