By diversifying into the renewable energy industry, a Holland, Michigan company is creating new jobs. As reported by Joshua Delung on the Energy Empowers website, Tiara Yachts, which makes fiber composite structures for boats, transformed part of its factory and formed a new company, Energetx Composites, to manufacture commercial-sized wind turbine blades.
Kelly Slikkers, Vice President of New Product Development at Energetx is quoted in the Energy Empowers article as indicating that the diversification is part of a vision that Tiara Yachts officials had been discussing for a few years. They wanted to use their expertise in composite materials to diversify and provide products that could put more Michigan people to work.
Energetx received a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the company made a matching investment to retool its existing plant in Holland, Michigan.
Myron Kukla reported for The Grand Rapids Press in September, 2010 that Energetx was planning a 120,000 square foot plant to build the wind turbine blades that could bring 750 jobs to the Holland area. The $6.5 million plant would be built on 26 acres in the Northside Industrial Park. Kukla quotes Energetx Principal David Slikkers as indicating that the jobs would be added incrementally as production comes on line.
In an article for The Grand Rapids Press in October, 2010, Julia Bauer reported that the site of the new Energetx plant was designated a renewable energy renaissance zone and will be free of state and local taxes for the next 15 years. The plant will produce utility-scale wind turbine blades 150 feet long and weighing up to 28 tons. In her report, Bauer quotes David Slikkers as pointing out that construction on the plant would begin in the spring of 2011.
The shift from fiber composite structures for boats to wind turbine blades was aided by a license agreement Energetx signed with an aeronautic design firm in Spain. In a report by Ben Beversluis in The Holland Sentinel in January, 2010, Energetx spokesman Dave Walsh was quoted as calling the partnership unprecedented in that it allows Energetx to use the Spanish firm’s designs to produce wind turbine blades for distribution in North America. The long-term experience of the Spanish firm, combined with Energetx’s experience with composite materials will allow the company to produce lighter weight, more reliable wind turbine blades.
In May 2010, Stephen Kloosterman reported for The Holland Sentinel that as part of its licensing agreement with the Spanish firm Aeroblade, Energetx will be producing wind turbine blades for Aeroblade’s North American customers. Energetx will also sell blades to wind turbine manufacturers globally on its own.
Ben Beversluis, “Spanish design to boost Holland wind blade production” – The Holland Sentinel
Joshua Delung, “VP100: Retooling Michigan – Yachts and watts” – Energy Empower
Julia Bauer, “Holland wind turbine maker Energetx Composites gets huge state, tax break for next 15 years” – The Grand Rapids Press
Myron Kukla, “Wind turbine parts manufacturer Energetx Composites could bring 750 jobs to Holland area” – The Grand Rapids Press
Stephen Kloosterman, “Energetx to build turbine blades for Spanish firm” – The Holland Sentinel