New Wind, Energy Market Opportunities for Composite Technology | Renewable Energy Composite Solutions
Renewable Energy Composite Solutions (RECS) is a Vancouver, Washington manufacturer of composite parts for the wind energy industry. A spin-off of Christensen Yachts, RECS was formed to take the composite technology Christensen uses to build ship hulls and diversify into the up and coming renewable energy industry. The company employs around 150 people.
As a result of the recession, Christensen Yachts, a large luxury yacht builder, was forced to lay off 80 percent of its workforce and halt construction on a second shipyard expansion in Tennessee. They decided that they needed to take their core expertise – building ship hulls out of composite materials – and diversify into other industries. They formed RECS in 2009 to manufacture components for the wind energy industry, specifically small wind turbines.
They initially looked for partners and opportunities and found Skyron, an Oregon collaboration of engineers, scientists, investors and change agents bringing a new generation of wind energy systems to the forefront of the renewable sector. They produced Skyron’s prototype vertical axis wind turbine, which targeted a variety of field applications involving onsite generation solutions for urban and remote sites. Cost challenges in production as well as a lack of strong incentives for small wind renewable energy ventures slowed their growth. They looked to Impact Washington, a NIST MEP affiliate, for help in finding new opportunities.
Impact Washington worked with RECS to retool and retrain the workforce with the goal of bringing back the laid off workers. They applied lean principles to the production layout as well as to product development and started to identify markets for their small wind turbine products. Impact Washington took a team from RECS through an innovation program, where they spent a day doing an idea creation session and settled on some ideas to pursue. One idea was to use the company’s composite technology to become a supplier for the big wind turbines. While the small wind market was not yet cost effective, the large wind turbine market had stronger incentives and more opportunities. Another idea generated from the innovation session led them to a Department of Defense DARPA project to produce a fully autonomous submarine tracker vessel, built with a composite hull (which is now in its second phase). A third idea led to an opportunity for RECS to work with Lucid Energy to produce the LucidPipe Power System, a system that harnesses the untapped energy potential of moving water to produce clean, low-cost electricity. RECS is now a vetted supplier to the renewable wind energy and is poised to manufacture products on a large scale for in this sector and in thermal energy.
- $1M in new sales from a new market
- Became a supplier to the renewable wind energy industry