11/30/04 - NOTES: Tuesday@REI Wind Power Industry planning

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 11/30/2004 - 17:48.

Jeff gives overview of history of wind power in NEO and of
his effort to reestablish this here

 

Then he gets into the needs to make this happen. He
stresses need for open model – open communications – to move our efforts
forward. Mentioned Wind Power conference and that no email addresses were
provided for attendees and presenters – old model. New model is open meetings
like at REI and the vision of social networks and analysis.

 

Valdis Krebs speaks of how
to build networks for wind power in NEO.

“Connecting to create� –
Valdis started out working with TRW looking at how people in company shared knowledge – why and
how people get together to exchange information. Today's presentation was expansion of Making
Change presentation
. He proposes we need to take iPod model to develop
"windPod"

Jeff speaks about the range of opportunities arising with growth of wind
industry in USA. Wind speed sensors and poles, for example - research has shown
billions will be spent on wind industry - 70% will be manufacturing - Ohio
should be the second largest manufacturer. He points out we already have all
the fabricators here to make wind turbines but no one here is putting the
pieces together - even as everyone complains the manufacturing jobs are going
overseas. Jeff goes down the list of all the pieces of the puzzle and states we
aren't doing anything to capture any of this business - just waiting for
subcontract work to fall in laps.

We need to become more proactive about all of this - develop expertise or
license it and put it all together here.

Industry rep in audience points out there are challenges - five companies in America making towers
and GE has pushed the cost low - it is impossible to break into the
market without seeing return on investment. He also points out the Fed Gov
hasn't guaranteed PTC, making long term planning difficult.

Jeff says he agrees so let's beat industry in own game by being more
innovative - for example concrete filled fiberglass towers would hedge against rising steel costs.

Attendee says that with larger wind turbines that are more efficient they may be able to do
without PTC, but there always seems to be public opposition - doesn't see
government allowing wind farm in Lake Erie, for example. Jeff says there are
plenty of farmers in Ohio with wind resources that would be happy to harvest that - let's
get our feet wet on land (e.g. Bowling Green).

Jeff proposes developing Smart Power Works - education and research campus developing innovation and resurces for alternative
energy - technology, logistics, policy, etc. Jeff sees wind in public trust and
fears corporations will get contracts for the rights to various sites and
the resources there will be lost from the public trust. Jeff says we need the university to
think out of the box with white paper ideas - innovation won't come from
existing businesses preserving their advantages, so "outsiders" need to be the innovators (just as computer company Apple is now a music products and distribution company).

Valdis points out Apple was late to the market and built something outside
their old business scope (computers) so asks what companies in Ohio can evolve their
businesses along new product lines to help develop wind industry here.

Attendee says if we really want to be smart think completely out of the box
- small generators for homes, for example - distributed power generation -
smart integrated sustainable energy solutions.

Ed Morrison says university needs to change model from internal tech transfer out to
industry to taking tech and IP from industry in to university to play role in innovation
process. Asks what do colleges and universities need to do to enable that process
better? Need to specify and articulate this.

Ed says biggest problem this region has is
hidden fences against sharing knowledge, ideas and resources. Pods rather than
iPods - not good way to get to scale - need to get to scale via networks rather
than consolidation and scaling a few solutions. State policies like 3rd
Frontier are important but community and universities need to take a more
active and vocal role - sees university collaboration growing from 7 to
23 schools acting as one virtual campus.

Tuesdays@REI help Case identify role it can
play in community. Attendee Dick Pogue asked how REI intends to publish information and Ed
points out REALNEO.

Another attendee says he sees universities as competing so how can they work
together - Ed says we need to accelerate investment in and public funding of
universities... need to stop competing against each other but instead work
together to build scale - act as region and then compete as region -
universities need to play big role modeling behavior of community. Attendee
asks if other regions do better - Ed and other attendees point to NC where Duke, UNC, etc. work
together as an ecosystem - true in Boston as well. Says we have very
sophisticated organizations here but mindset doesn't collaborate and innovation doesn't cross over to other
aspects of economic development. Attendee points out NC was effective developing this model
because of effective governor - Ohio doesn't have that. Ed says university
presidents are now working together to gain clout to influence at state level.

Attendee says we need to work with OSU - they have extension in every
county. Need to spread messages.

Valdis mentions Harvard Business Review article reports 1/2 the patents issued in the late 90s in
Silicon Valley were all connected together - result of types of networking - we need that type of broad regional synergy here.

Jeff asks what happens to the creative people here? They leave. What will
keep them here? Valdis says making this good place for creative people.

Jeff
stresses we need to take different approaches to development... points to effort featured at Making Change
highlighting Southern Ohio ED network - Valdis points out those people opened
up their networks and even got competitors to work together to find scale potentials... bulk buying, developing distribution channels, sharing opportunities.

Attendee from Lorain points out Ford is about to close down Econoline plant
and Lorain is exploring what they can do to reuse facility - talking to UAW
about how to work together - sustainable energy manufacturing is an possibility
- Jeff points out that space has 70 ton cranes - could be a place to consider.

Jeff says if we get group together to meet and share insight we'll find
better solutions.

NASA attendee points out they have lots of research tech transfer gems available there from early wind industry
development and have an interest to find innovative partners for
design and systems - perhaps this wind group can find some of the innovations needed right over at NASA - leverage another of our world-class research facilities and their best and brightest.

All in all, a very bright and hopeful meeting and disussion - this development initiative has a good foundation and strong, proactive leadership - as Jeff said, team needs to meet regularly, share insight, keep the dialogue open - will achieve valuable results.