Christensen Yachts of Vancouver, Washington, has gained a US$1m federal stimulus grant that will allow its renewable energy division to start producing wind turbine blades by the beginning of next year. Christensen’s Renewable Energy Composite Solutions LLC will be making equipment for wind turbine and hydrokinetic energy manufacturing.

“This diversification promises to bring back people we’ve laid off in the past 13 months who work in composite manufacturing,” Christensen President Joe Foggia told the Seattle Post Intelligencer. “Seventy-five percent of our yachts are built with composites so there are a lot of man-hours there.”

The grant will allow Christensen to retrofit manufacturing equipment for wind turbine blades and buoys that use wave energy to generate power.

The company’s engineers are working with Oregon State University’s tsunami center and SAIC, an international engineering and technology company, to develop the wave technology.

Scott Lindsay, a federal lobbyist, said the ocean renewable energy is the first marine-related manufacturing project in the Northwest USA. “The grant helps justify RECS moving forward, and helps them to bring in new clients and diversify the business,” he told the paper. “The good thing about the Vancouver location is that it’s at the epicenter of renewable ocean technology in the Northwest, with Washington focused on tidal resources and Oregon on wave resources.”

Foggia said that it would allow the company to recall as many as 200 workers. Christensen has laid off 300 members of its 500-member work force in the past 13 months as the international yacht market has dwindled. “Now we can bring some people back and get into production by the end of the year,” Foggia said.