Renewable energy is undergoing a sea change.
An Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) in Clallam County is exploring the coastal area's indigenous renewable energy sources inherent in wave power, tides, ocean thermal conversion and offshore wind. Led by the Clallam County Economic Development Council, the IPZ also includes participation from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Port of Port Angeles and Peninsula College.
"This team is providing research and development, industrial recruitment, economic development and workforce education opportunities to deliver new R&D and manufacturing operations to achieve what this region needs in terms of a domestic ocean renewable energy industry," says Charlie Brandt, director of the Marine Sciences Laboratory at PNNL, whose mission includes enabling sustainable energy from the nation's coastal areas.
The IPZ includes manufacturing space at the port, offering access for shipment of materials into the site and also export of products within the Puget Sound region or anywhere along the Pacific Rim, including Japan, China or Korea.
"We are building an advanced composites center that will be housed on Port of Port Angeles property, access R&D support from private industry and provide a trained workforce in composites manufacturing through Peninsula College," says Linda Rotmark, executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Council.
The innovative IPZ program in Washington promotes collaboration between government, research, workforce development, academic and private sector resources around specific industry clusters, including clean energy, aerospace, global health, medical devices, interactive media, water management, and wine and hospitality. Fifteen designated IPZs are in place across the state, each sited to take advantage of a region's pool of talent, resources and entrepreneurship.
The Clallam County IPZ focus on composites is driven by continuing innovation around advanced materials, especially for use in the sizable wind turbine blades necessary for offshore wind power generation in the deep Pacific.
"A number of companies in the area are involved in this endeavor, and Peninsula College has a well-recognized workforce education program heavily focused around the composites industry," Brandt says.