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Introduction


Alternative Energy Continues to Make Headlines


It’s no secret that manufacturing is the key to economic prosperity. It’s also no secret that consumers are reliant on energy to survive. As the world’s continued reliance on coal and fossil fuels remains a pivotal concern, the interest in finding alternatives to conventional electricity generation has been the focus for many years. According to newamerican.com, “Since fracking was introduced, US oil production has risen to 7.4 million bpd [barrels per day] and the US Energy Information Administration [EIA] predicts that US production will return to 1970 levels by 2019.” According to additional EIA data, the US met 86% of its needs in the first eight months of 2013, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1986. Because there is so much focus on the environment and clean energy, it’s no sur-


prise then that the Next Generation Power Electronics National Manufacturing In- novation Institute was announced in January 2014. Per manufacturing.gov, the new institute, led by North Carolina State University and supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), “… is focused on enabling the next generation of energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics in the next five years. Tese improvements will make power electronic devices like motors, consumer electronics, and devices that support our power grid faster, smaller, and more efficient.” Instead of just concentrating on producing more electricity, power utility companies in the US know that if the transmission capability can be im- proved, they will not have to produce as much electricity to meet future demands, which is why the new institute is so important in this arena. Te economics and availability of wind and solar power to generate electricity,


with the addition of natural gas electricity production, will be a strong foundation for sustainable, environmentally friendly energy. All of the efforts over the last 10 years or so to make natural gas reserves available have dramatically lowered the cost of energy in the US, which is a key, long-term benefit for manufacturing. Trough this particular issue of the Energy Manufacturing Yearbook, you’ll


receive an in-depth look at the industry itself—delving into the cost of natural gas in manufacturing and how it’s at the low end of the historic range. It will also touch on coal mining and provide overviews on the state of the nuclear energy industry and renewable energy as a percentage of overall electricity usage. Gear making has a notable role with a feature article focusing on a company that makes gears for oil and gas extraction, fracking, wind energy, coal mining and so on. In addition, there are also metrology case studies (one on oil and gas and the other wind energy). Finally, you can expect a comprehensive look at lean manufactur- ing and operational excellence in the oil and gas business, and articles on testing systems for electrical motors. SME’s goal, as always, is to provide outstanding, reliable technical expertise deliv-


ered directly to its members through integrated media products, such as this Energy Manufacturing Yearbook. Tank you for being an SME member and for helping SME continue its efforts to not only advance manufacturing, but to also address both the knowledge and skill needs for industry.


Energy Manufacturing 2014 1


Dennis S. Bray, PhD, FSME SME Interim CEO


All of the efforts to make natural gas reserves available have


dramatically lowered the cost of energy in the US, which is a key, long-term benefit for manufacturing.


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