Director of Energy Center, Doug Corrigan, Speaks to the Southern Piedmont Technology Council
Executive Director Douglas Corrigan shows Southern Piedmont Technology Council
members the Riverstone Energy Center and the construction of the Center for
Coatings Application Research Education during a tour on Tuesday.
SOUTH BOSTON --
The newly opened Riverstone Energy Center in South Boston aims to help entrepreneurs grow new clean energy products and industry in the region.
The commercialization center is one of six energy centers in the tobacco region created to support the Virginia Tobacco Commission’s mission of revitalizing the region’s economy.
Essentially, it’s a small business incubator that will focus on technologies that build upon the existing industrial and agricultural base through high-tech and clean energy ventures, Executive Director Douglas Corrigan told attendees of the Southern Piedmont Technology Council’s “Tech Bunch for Lunch” on Tuesday.
“We have to look at what fits into our community,” Corrigan said.
In Halifax County, agribusiness and developing bioenergy crops makes sense, he said. Halifax County Industrial Development Authority manages Riverstone.
The region is in the wood basket, so manufacturers could benefit from research on finishing and coatings for wood or other products, he said. The Center for Coatings Application Research Education is under construction in the Riverstone Technology Building.
That research could also be applied to developing energy efficient housing products that could employ the local manufacturing workforce.
Additionally, companies at Riverstone could seize opportunities for developing solutions to renewable energy challenges, like for battery storage, which currently makes solar or wind more expensive, Corrigan said.
That’s an opportunity as Dominion Virginia Power develops a pilot solar power and battery storage facility in Halifax County. Federal government research opportunities also exist for developing Smart Grid projects to enable widespread use of electric vehicles.
Riverstone doesn’t conduct research and development, but plans to partner with universities and other research institutions like national labs for its clients. Ultimately, the center provides resources to help entrepreneurs take their concepts through all the steps, including R&D, prototyping and finding funds, to market.
Riverstone’s modeling and simulation center helps small companies compete on the same level as larger corporations, Corrigan said. The four-screen “cave” can display graphics in a virtual reality 3-D, “near holographic,” environment, which helps for designing product prototypes or factories.
Clients also have “telepresence” teleconferencing and a studio and video editing equipment at their disposal.
Attendee CEO Robert Taylor of Gamewood liked Riverstone’s plans, but wonders how long they’ll take to develop. Yet, with high-tech companies also coming to Danville, he sees a new cluster of industry developing in Southside.
“You really start to see a focus on a product kind of coming into this region that hopefully will help to fulfill the tobacco commission’s edict or purpose,” Taylor said.
For more information, visit RiverstoneEnergyCenter.com.