Charleston Regional Development Alliance

Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

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Home to the world’s largest, and one of only three, wind turbine drivetrain test facility

South Carolina has a significant wind energy manufacturing and renewable energy industry, and is ranked the second highest U.S. state for wind energy manufacturing according to Business Facilities magazine .

Due to our strategic location and market strengths, including the construction of the world's largest and most advanced Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility, the Charleston region is uniquely positioned to support this growing clean jobs industry.

Market StrengthsRelated Research & InnovationWho's Here

Charleston's Competitive Advantages

The Charleston region offers several competitive advantages: university-based research, engineering and supercomputing capabilities; a strong existing manufacturing cluster and renewable energy industry; and a deepwater port. In addition, the continued development of the region's aerospace industry will provide complementary and non-competing capabilities in composites, logistics, electronics and other related areas of expertise.

The Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) was established in 2004 to drive economic growth by creating, developing and fostering restoration industries and environmentally sustainable technologies in South Carolina.

CURI is strategically located on a 97-acre research campus at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, a working port facility on the East Coast offering worldwide access to wind turbine innovators through ship, rail or road. Anchored by the offshore wind turbine drivetrain testing facility and the graduate engineering center, CURI's campus will become a hub for energy systems testing.

With materials conservation and research already underway at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center , the campus also will include research in materials manufacturing, large bearing testing, lubrication and tribology.

A graduate engineering center will become a landmark building where students, Clemson University faculty and staff, and industry partners will collaborate.

CURI pairs North Charleston's materials manufacturing and assembly process with Charleston's heritage as the nation's leading living laboratory for cultural and structural preservation. It brings together experts and researchers in six focus areas: renewable and alternative energy, restoration ecology, advanced materials, resilient infrastructure, community revitalization and historic preservation.

World's Largest Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility

CURI is currently constructing the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility (WTDTF) as part of a growing energy R&D complex. One of only three such facilities in the world and the largest, it will be fully operational by the end of 2012.

The global leaders in wind turbine manufacturing serve on the Industrial Advisory Board for the Center with the key industry players already requesting time in the facility for testing their next generation turbines.

CURI offers deepwater access, is adjacent to the Port of Charleston and will be capable of full-scale advanced testing of next-generation drivetrain systems up to 15MW and 7.5MW with dynamic non-torque loading, as well as 50Hz or 60Hz testing.

While it is the world's largest quality control center for offshore wind turbines, it will accommodate other industries as well, including aerospace and automotive, which have similar composite needs as the wind industry.

Additional Restoration Research and Expertise

The emphasis in Advanced Materials and Energy Systems builds on Clemson University's core competencies in multi-body modeling, advanced materials, systems engineering, power systems engineering, sensors and sustainable environment.
  • Advanced Materials, Processes, and Systems: The Charleston region is a hub for composites-based assembly; this work focuses on developing new methods and materials to lessen demand on these finite resources
  • Submerged Metals: Scientists have developed advanced engineering techniques to remove and prevent corrosion on saltwater-exposed metal surfaces
  • Restoration Ecology: The Intelligent River - Linking Water Resources, Land Use, Energy and Climate Change through observation systems to support research and provide real-time monitoring, analysis and management

Integrated, Global Infrastructure

The Port of Charleston is the most efficient and eighth-busiest U.S. seaport, with five terminals close to the open sea. This deepwater Port expertly handles breakbulk, project and heavy lift cargoes up to 500 tons with on-dock rail, excellent oversize clearances inland, and ample open or covered storage.

It is also currently and efficiently handling fully-loaded Post-Panamax vessels up to 8,000 TEUs.

Charleston offers dual rail access, linkage to multiple Interstates via I-26, and a convenient international airport with direct domestic flights to major cities and quick connections to nearby international hubs.

Skilled Workforce and Talent

Charleston's skilled manufacturing workforce grew more than 5% between 2000 and 2009 compared to a 28% decline for the United States during the same period.

Charleston offers comprehensive workforce training developed and delivered by South Carolina's internationally recognized pre-employment training program, readySC , which develops a trained workforce at little or no cost to companies.

Trident Technical College also collaborates with local companies to develop customized programs.

Competitive Wage Structure

The chart below provides wages typically associated with the renewable energy sector, or visit our workforce and employment page to access a more comprehensive list of average wages by occupation (BLS data).

For a local wage & benefit survey broken down by industry sector and company size contact Michael J. Graney, Vice President, Global Business Development, at 843.760.4526 or , at the Charleston Regional Development Alliance

Energy Systems Cluster, Selected Occupations, Charleston S.C. MSA

U.S. BLS Occupation Title and Code  2014 Average Hourly Wage  2014 Median Hourly Wage 
Atmospheric and Space Scientists, 19-2021 $32.68 $27.88
Chemical Engineers, 17-2041 $39.70 $36.87
Chemical Technicians, 19-4031 $20.30 $19.44
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal & Plastic, 51-4011 $18.20 $18.35
Cutting, Punching, Press Machine Setters, Operators, Tenders, Metal & Plastic, 51-4031 $19.00 $17.12
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians, 17-3023 $31.48 $29.37
Electrical Engineers, 17-2071 $38.32 $37.97
Environmental Engineers, 17-2081 $32.68 $32.05
Industrial Engineers, 17-2112 $36.77 $37.21
Machinists, 51-4041 $21.75 $20.68
Materials Engineers, 17-2131 $39.74 $40.09
Mechanical Engineering Technicians, 17-3027 $25.12 $24.81
Mechanical Engineers, 17-2141 $41.69 $43.25
Team Assemblers, 51-2092 $16.54 $15.68
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, 51-4121 $18.21 $18.24
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6/2015.

South Carolina Supports Business

S.C. has been ranked as one of the Top Five most business-friendly states for the past six years by the Pollina Corporation and as "one of the best states to do business" by a survey of site selection consultants conducted by Development Counsellors International (DCI) .
  • One of the lowest corporate income taxes in the Southeastern U.S. at 4.6% and no state property or local income tax
  • Very favorable regulatory climate
As a right-to-work state, South Carolina's workforce has one of the lowest unionization rates and lowest work-stoppage rates in the nation.
  • In 2013, just 1.9% of workers in the Charleston metro area were members of an organized union, well below the national average of 11.3%
  • The manufacturing unionization rate in the Charleston region is 5.9%.

Reliable, Low Cost Energy

South Carolina's industrial electricity averages 20 - 25% below the U.S. average. The Charleston region is served by two generating electric utilities (Santee Cooper and SCANA/SCE&G ) with a combined capacity of 10,275 megawatts, plus two electric cooperatives (Berkeley Electric and Edisto Electric ).

Greater Charleston is also part of the South Carolina transmission grid, which is served by four generating utilities with a combined capacity of 19,721 megawatts. For natural gas transmission and distribution, the region is served by Carolina Gas Transmission Corporation, a subsidiary of SCANA Corporation.

Energy Systems Cluster Firms in the Charleston S.C. MSA

Company  Web Address  Product/Service 
TAM Energy Manufacture wind turbines and other renewable, supplemental sources of energy
IMO Group USA Manufacture slewing rings used to spin wind turbines
Clemson University's Energy Systems Innovation Center Clemson University Restoration Institute's rearch center for advanced materials and conservation; wind turbine drivetrain testing facility; graduate education center
DC Machine LLC Industrial machine shop with design/engineering, manufacturing/assembly and welding capabilities
Eaton, Aerospace Group, Fuel & Motion Control Sys Div Machined components
FEV Inc. Engineering services with specialty in powertrain & vehicle related engineering; design, analysis, prototyping, powertrain & transmission R&D
Gedore Tools Inc. Distribution of hand tools targeting aviation, automotive, industrial and renewable energy sectors
Innovative Machining Technology, Inc. (IMT) Global supplier of OEM components for the power generation industry (gas turbine, nuclear, and hydrogen generators); machining, nondestructive testing
Jacobs Applied Technology Design, engineering and fabrication of process units
Leatherwood Electronics and Manufacturing Electronics, precision fabrication
Mi-Tech, Inc. Repair/overhaul rotating machinery, steam turbines for industrial, marine and military sectors; machine shop
Parker Hannifin Corporation Fluid pumps for gas turbine fuel systems
SCRA Applied R&D Develops technologies and testing to improve capability and lower costs of client products and processes, primarily for federal agencies and over two hundred global corporations, including Boeing, BMW, Honeywell and GE.
Vencor, Inc. Design and manufacture electro-mechanical devices
Zeltwanger LP Manufacture and assemble high precision components
GE Energy, Greenville SC Largest advanced gas turbine manufacturing plant in the world
Fluor, Greenville SC EPCM (engineering, procurement, construction, and management) services globally in the energy and chemicals, industrial/infrastructure, power and other sectors
Timken, Four SC plants (Duncan, Gaffney, Honea Path, and Union/Tyger River) Friction management and power transmission solutions for many major market segments, including aerospace, automotive, defense, energy, industrial equipment, positioning control, power generation, rail and others.
Iljin America, Greer SC Manufacture industrial bearings for the wind energy, construction, mining, and other similar demand market sectors
PPG Industries, Chester SC Manufacture fiberglass used in making wind turbines
Source: Center for Business Research, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2/2015