The Supply Chain is Blowin' in the Wind
The steadily expanding renewable resource of wind energy has, in recent years, been seen as a major contributor to manufacturing. But supply chain will offer the most profitable opportunities for wind energy in the future, delegates were told Monday at a Cambridge Cleantech’s Cambridge Awards Week event.
Cambridge Cleantech’s wind energy special interest group kicked off the week-long event at Eversheds’ headquarters at Kett House in Cambridge. Attendees will participate in expos, seminars and workshops to celebrate the appreciation of local businesses in the area. Supporting the growth of environmental goods and services companies, Cambridge Cleantech believes locally-sourced wind energy will not only drive the global supply chain, but also improve the local economy and create jobs.
“The supply chain is much bigger and I would encourage people to get involved in that, but it’s not going to happen overnight,” Chris Parkhouse of Deyton Bell, a specialist professional services firm, told attendees. “There is an opportunity for skilled people in maintenance, operation and servicing.”
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Ranking seventh worldwide in wind power, trailing China, the U.S., Germany, Spain, Italy and France, UK companies need to now concentrate efforts to utilize this renewable resource and further drive the local supply chain.
“Most people talk about turbines but the UK is a leader in small wind – 60% of which is exported across the world,” Parkhouse said. “In big wind we are only a leader in allowing overseas companies to develop offshore. We need to do something about this.”
Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight
Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports.
A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers.
Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US.
The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two.
Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels
The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.
The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete.
Tesla’s supply chain woes
Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue.
Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely.
Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany