Opinion: We Have Options for Fueling Our Growth

Phil Rugile

The debate continues, post-Amazon Apocalypse. I think we all have the answer, or at least part of it, right here and right now.

Let’s start with this – “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $70 million for a Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute to develop technologies that will advance U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, energy efficiency, and innovation. This institute will focus on early-stage research for advancing cybersecurity in energy efficient manufacturing.”

Energy innovation combined with cybersecurity. Two areas we already play in extensively.

Energy. I grew up a half mile from the lovely Northport oil-fired stacks. Once state of the art, they became the filthiest power plant in all NY State. To be exact, they produce 5.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.  Not only dirty, but incredibly inefficient. Two alternatives are right below: Hydrogen generators that can run off almost any liquid (including waste) and of course wind power, with offshore turbines coming online throughout the northeast. The other hot spots are next gen gas fired plants and of course solar (cells are hot).

What do all these new energy systems have in common? A need for the development of advanced light weight, high strength composite materials and a workforce capable of installing and maintaining them no matter where they are built. We are talking hydrogen fuel cells, energy storing solar arrays, turbine fans and all the connecting components that will make them durable and efficient. Not will only can they power our homes, but reduce costs in marine transportation, trucking and even consumer electronics. The skills needed for the industry range from software engineer to prototype designers, materials scientists to production line workers and installation technicians. State wide we employ over 150,000 people in well paid “clean energy” jobs. This includes energy efficiency, transportation, grid workers, etc. New jobs added for 2018 were expected to be around 8,000.

In addition to the DOE funding mentioned above, New York State, via NYSERDA, has committed $2.6 billion dollars to fund 46 energy projects. Take a look at what NYSERDA offers HERE 

Cybersecurity. System vulnerability is a serious concern. Long Island is deep into providing education and solutions to industry. Energy systems are all online and hackable. Even manufacturing production – due to advances in automation – are vulnerable to attacks. Hackers can tweak machinery to change the tooling of a part by a minuscule amount, but enough to cause critical component failures.

Degreed, certification and corporate education courses are offered in both disciplines at our local universities and colleges, including certification programs for maintenance and repair programs. It’s  an exciting career option for both students and career changers.

Phil Rugile is director of innovation at Launchpad Long Island

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