International and out-of-state companies focused on clean energy are investing heavily in the Albany, New York, area, fueling a sector that has attracted more than $400 million.
Companies from Spain, Belgium, and Scotland have announced plans over the past two weeks to expand their presence in New York State’s capital region by investing in research, manufacturing, engineering, and sales staffs.
“We weren’t aware of what was here five years ago when we identified nanotechnology as a growth area that could help many of our products,” said Gautam Thapar, chairman and CEO of Avantha Group, the India-based parent company of CG Power.
CG Power designs, markets, and manufactures products and offers services related to power transmission and generation. Avantha, with $4 billion in annual revenue, owns companies in the paper and pulp, food processing, farm forestry, and chemical industries. Nanotechnology could make his businesses more efficient and more competitive, Thapar said.
Universities around the region have spurred interest in the area, said Francis Murray, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
UAlbany’s NanoTech center has become a research and training hub for the East, joining Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of the top engineering schools, he said.
Community colleges also have responded to a growing demand for workers by training students to install solar panels and work in other energy fields, including semiconductors and wind power.
Schenectady County Community College has introduced its own new programs, preparing students for semiconductor jobs or to work at General Electric’s proposed $100 million battery plant.
“There was a lot of pent-up demand for this type of investment,” said Mark Scher, CEO of MSE Power Systems Inc., which was acquired by CG Power.
“For the economy to grow, we need to find ways to squeeze more out of the existing grid,” he said. “New York is one of the states in front of the curve.”