Governor Roy Cooper toured Schneider Electric’s Raleigh Hub today to see new technology that aims to increase energy efficiency and cut emissions. Cooper says he hopes innovation will support the state’s climate goals, despite recent challenges from lawmakers and utilities.
When a robot hand waved at Governor Roy Cooper, he waved back.
The friendly machines were part of a tour of Schneider Electric’s facility in Morrisville on Wednesday.
The hub is one of seven across North America where the company is developing technology aimed at cutting emissions and increasing energy efficiency.
“We hope that as this company grows, it will focus on North Carolina as a place to grow,” Cooper said.
Schneider Electric has more than 1,550 employees across the state and says it’s responsible for more then $180 million in statewide economic benefit in 2020.
“Our business is energy management, automation, and making sure we do it in a way with software so we make it sustainable,” said Rohan Kelkar, executive vice president of Schneider Electric’s Power Products Division.
During the tour, the company showed off technology that allows employees to interact with machinery remotely, limiting greenhouse gas-producing travel while increasing efficiency and safety.
Engineers are also working on ways to manage and prioritize energy on the grid, as demand is expected to increase with the wider adoption of electric vehicles.
The technology aims to overcome challenges in the clean energy transition.
According to a 2021 North Carolina law, the state must reduce its carbon pollution from the power sector 70% below 2005 levels by 2030.
However, Duke’s most recent carbon plan will fall short of reaching the 2030 benchmark and push offshore wind construction until the 2040s.
“I hope the Utilities Commission will see the great advancements that are happening in technology and push Duke toward more renewable energy,” Cooper said. “I think it’s wrong to have put offshore wind so far down the road when we already have leases on the coast and have the ability to do that.”
Schneider Electric is also focusing on localizing manufacturing to enable fast construction during climate disasters.
The company showed off its FlexSeT switchboard, with part made in North Carolina, that can be assembled in two-to-four hours instead of the usual 6-12 weeks.
Wake County Commissioner Shinica Thomas said that innovation was a highlight of the event for her.
“We in the county really try to talk a lot about regionalism when it comes to economic development, workforce and transit,” Thomas said.
Many of these developments are collaborations with Triangle universities, including NC State. Schneider Electric executives said utilizing research and development talent was a factor in choosing to expand in North Carolina.