Greg Schulte is the President and CEO of Bonfiglioli USA, one of the world's leading designers and manufacturers of gear motors, drive systems and planetary gearboxes. The company is also a primary developer of systems which integrate electronic, hydraulic and mechanical engineering. He was appointed to this position in June 2008 and oversees the Bonfiglioli Group's American subsidiary headquarters located in Hebron, Kentucky

AltEnergyMag Interview - Bonfiglioli's Role in Renewable Energy

Greg Schulte | Bonfiglioli USA

1. Greg, can you discuss the current state of the renewable energy industry in the U.S.?
One of the obstacles we are facing right now is the lack of available funding. However, I think we are gearing up to see the market explode in 2010 due to the significant increase in stimulus incentives coming down the pipeline.
 
2. Bonfiglioli is the world’s largest supplier of yaw and pitch drives.  If the legislation is passed by the Senate, what will this mean for the renewable energy industry, including solar and wind farm production?
There is no doubt that the passing of the legislation will move the industry forward. Not only will the U.S. be in a better position to meet the alternative energy goals set by the government, but it will allow us to produce energy at a more competitive level. This funding boost will also fuel further research and development, and enhance the future efficiency of renewable energy systems.
 
3. How are Bonfiglioli and its products leading the way with technology advancements and breakthroughs in the industry?
Bonfiglioli is constantly researching and developing new products, or enhancing existing ones. For example, our new solar inverters have the highest efficiency in the industry while our smart drives, pitch and control solutions in the wind market reduce down time and greatly improve ROI for the wind farm owners. Overall, Bonfiglioli is focusing on integrating several products into what we call “smart system solutions” which inherently provide a higher level of performance and reliability for both the customer and the investor.
 
4. Greg, can you tell us a little bit about Bonfiglioli and their experience in the renewable energy industry around the world. 
Bonfiglioli began supplying the wind industry with gearboxes more than 30 years ago. Today, Bonfiglioli is the leading supplier for this industry and is providing the smart drive solutions for pitch and yaw controls. In the solar industry, we provide the solar trackers with gear motors to allow for more direct sunlight to the panels themselves. Our solar inverter line – which has already experienced fantastic success in the European market – offers the highest efficiency in the industry today. We just launched that line in the U.S. in October of 2009.
 
5. How do Bonfiglioli’s products outlast and outperform their competitors?
Bonfiglioli’s ability to outlast and outperform our competition is really three fold - experience, research & development, and our uncompromising quality level. We have focused on these core competencies for over 52 years. This has allowed us to witness firsthand the continuously changing demands of the market and environment… and, as a result, adjust our products accordingly. Our vast experience and success is unmatched and by using some of the most advanced manufacturing systems in the world, we continue to create winning solutions and provide the highest level of quality in the industry.
 
6. In 2009, Bonfiglioli made its debut in the U.S. solar energy industry.  I understand you just introduced a new product to the market.  Can you tell us about the RPS 450 Inverter?
The RPS 450 is the latest in solar inverter technology with a large product range of 30 kW to 1 MW. The inverter efficiency is at 99 percent and provides the market with the highest available max-point power tracking of any other inverter manufacturer out there. The overall efficiency of the system is critical and Bonfiglioli wants to ensure customers the best return on their investment. Bonfiglioli has been around for over 52 years and the market can be confident that we will be around to meet their service needs in the future.
 
7. Greg, tell us how Bonfiglioli’s technology contributions and advancement in the renewable energy industry will play an important role in the future of solar and wind?
In the solar industry, we’re able to help our customers generate power at the best efficiency rates. By using our gear motors to track the sun, we obtain the highest levels of direct sunlight. Our string connection box tracks the performance of each solar string to ensure peak panel performance. The power and the data obtained from combiner box feeds into our inverter, which contains a data logger. This information gives solar farm owners 24-hour access to top-performing solar energy sites and allows operators to identify maintenance issues
 
In the wind industry, we’ve been a part of the market for more than 30 years. We know how to meet and exceed the demands of today’s market. From a technology approach, our smart drive solutions ensure maximum energy production. Today, one out of three windmills in the world uses a Bonfiglioli gearbox, making the company a preferred worldwide supplier of these applications.
 
Bonfiglioli’s overall renewable approach is to improve the efficiency of the entire system, solar or wind, and to produce the highest quality product in the market to ensure the best return on the investment.
 
8. What needs to be done to make sure we meet the Department of Energy’s goal of generating 20 percent of our electricity from the wind by 2030?
First and foremost, we need to make sure the funding is in place. We need to begin installing approximately 10,000 megawatts annually to reach the Department of Energy’s goal. Secondly, the worst thing companies can do right now is take risks on unproven and untested equipment, simply because of lower costs. It is important that windmill manufactures work closely with their suppliers and test new technology to ensure the maximum uptime of each windmill
 
9. Can you discuss the outlook for the renewable energy industry here in the U.S. and around the world?
Considering the global presence of Bonfiglioli, we can safely say our future is green. Leaders around the world are focused on renewable energy solutions and many governments are stepping in to help offset the initial investments dollars. Therefore, the outlook is positive beyond 2010. In order meet the goals set by various governments, we need to be extremely aggressive. Bonfiglioli accepts the challenge and is ready to begin work on reaching these goals.


Greg Schulte
President and CEO
Bonfiglioli USA

 


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