July 01, 2010
By: by Larry Rulison, Business Writer, The Times Union
ALBANY -- An Indian conglomerate has committed to spending $20 million over the next five years at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
The company -- Avantha Group -- is setting up what's being called the CG Power Center for Intelligent Power. CG Power is an Avantha subsidiary that specializes in manufacturing equipment for electric utilities.
The new center will work with the NanoCollege's Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center researching new "smart grid" technologies that will incorporate renewable energy generation such as wind farms into the electrical grid. Because of its unpredictably, it can be difficult for states like New York to manage the flow of wind power into the grid, especially because most wind power is located far from the cities where demand for power is greatest.
Although the NanoCollege is best known for its research partnerships with companies involved in computer chip manufacturing, it has increased its affiliations with companies focusing on "clean energy" technologies ranging from solar power to fuel cells and advanced batteries for electricity storage.
Avantha says it will bring 50 scientists and researchers to the Albany NanoTech complex on Fuller Road where the college is located, and plans to add 50 consultants and designers. The collaboration with the college is expected to generate $50 million in revenue and new business investment in the state over the five years of the agreement.
Gautam Thapar, Avantha's chief executive, attended Friday's announcement at the college's NanoFab East building. He said that the partnership with the school will eventually allow it to compete with the giants in its field, such as Siemens AG, the German industrial conglomerate that specializes in power systems. He said the idea to contact the college came from a recent meeting with state officials at an overseas conference.
"We look for partners who value every dollar that we want to spend with passion and commitment," Thapar said. "Many good things in life start with a chance encounter like that."
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, also was at Friday's event. Tonko, an engineer, is familiar with smart grid technologies through his previous role as president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
"This is a great way to invest in energy technology," Tonko said. "I see this as a great victory, as a great inspiration."
College spokesman Steve Janack said the new center will initially take space in the school's CESTM building and use labs and clean rooms throughout the campus.
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