As ground is broken for the new Energy Innovation Center (EIC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a question lingers in my mind: Can innovation do for energy what it's doing for water?
A concentrated focus on water made us all more aware of how to treat this resource – and make it work for industry. We've developed technology to measure and manage its use, and as a result manufacturers have found new ways to harness this resource, reduce consumption and reduce costs.
Now, that attention is turning to energy and power. With relatively low energy costs in the U.S., energy has not been a priority. But forward-thinkers know the time is coming when energy will represent a bigger portion of a bill of materials. For many, the time is now, since these companies use more than one-third of the electric power in the U.S.
The location of the EIC puts it in close proximity to many energy innovators, including Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls and A.O. Smith Corp. – companies that regularly contribute to research that will help find cost-effective sources of reliable power that become a competitive advantage for manufacturers.
And just as Wisconsin became a global water-technology hub, with the EIC the Midwest can become the epicenter of energy- and power-related innovation through accelerated collaboration between industry and academic scientists, engineers and business leaders.
It's the discoveries made at the EIC that will drive further product innovation and enhance sustainability for any manufacturer, anywhere in the world, that uses energy – ultimately benefiting consumers as those companies more successfully manage costs and consumption.
Energy powers industry and commerce, and as good stewards of the world's resources we must all find ways to accelerate the development of innovative technology in the energy, power and control industry.
It's exciting to think that the discoveries made at the EIC will impact companies – and people – around the globe.