A groundbreaking collaboration to develop a wind energy-based power system has taken place thanks to Timken Company, Stark State College and the Stark County Port Authority. The Wind Energy Research and Development Center, the first of its kind in the United States, will develop ultra-large bearings and seals on sophisticated equipment that replicates the operating environment of large multi-megawatt wind turbines.
The research and development center, worth US$11.8 million, will anchor Stark State’s new Emerging Technologies Airport Campus on 15 acres of property adjacent the Akron-Canton Airport. This is on the borders of the City of Green in Summit County and Jackson Township in Stark County, Ohio.
Executives of the project are very optimistic about what the center can accomplish in terms of simulating real-world conditions that would benefit the wind energy industry. “We are very pleased to launch such an important project for the wind energy industry,” said Douglas Smith, Timken’s senior vice president of technology and quality. “The groundbreaking was the first step toward improving the performance and efficiency of the mechanical power transmission systems used in the wind energy industry. Being able to simulate real-world conditions at full-scale puts us in a unique position to rapidly assess and qualify new solutions for the industry.”
Together with the benefits associated with breakthroughs in the wind energy sector, employment and knowledge transfers are also expected. The 18,000-square-foot center will secure 65 jobs directly, while creating a unique research practicum and technical certification program for Stark State College students. The students will be provided critical experience when conducting research. They will also be exposed to developing new designs and testing large wind-turbine bearing systems. It also will provide critical training for current and future technicians across the spectrum of operating services required by today’s wind turbine manufacturers and operators.
“Stark State College is delighted to partner with The Timken Company in creating this new Wind Energy Research and Development Center,” said John O’Donnell, of Stark State College. “The groundbreaking is an exciting first step to develop industry-leading clean energy academic programs and provide future job opportunities for students.”
The joint funding for the project combines Timken’s investment of more than $6 million, an investment of $2.1 million from Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission and $1.5 million in loans from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority’s Advanced Energy Jobs Stimulus Program.
The Timken Company provides friction management and power transmission products and services that are critical to help hard-working machinery perform efficiently and reliably. It has sales of $4.1 billion in 2010 and 20,000 people operating from locations in 29 countries.
Stark State College is a comprehensive, two-year institution of higher education that provides high-value, student-centered associate degrees and professional development. It is located in North Canton and offers more than 230 associate degrees, degree options and one-year and career enhancement certificates. Stark State has developed a reputation among business and industry for being willing to aggressively develop workforce development activities in support of emerging business needs.
The Stark Development Board is a private not for profit corporation that provides economic development programs and services to retain and attract new business investment and growth in Stark County. The Stark Development Board also serves by contract to provide economic development services to the Stark County Port Authority, a government entity created by Stark County government to assist in economic development.