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Hiding in plain sight

My Take | June 10, 2024 | By: Janet Preus

Everything we talk about on this site has to do with textiles in some way. It’s required when you work for an organization that represents the interests of those working in the textile industry. It is not required, however, that the textiles be obvious. They just have to be … in there somewhere … but an integral part of the product or material.

We’ve all seen at least one giant wind turbine “farm” stretching across a large field. The massive blades that power the turbine that creates the energy are impressive, to be sure. Textiles, however, might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you see them, but all wind turbine blades have them, and they are an essential part of a complex and efficient energy system. 

This is just one example of how textiles figure into a larger alternative energy picture. Photovoltaic, or solar, fabric is also becoming more common, offering lighter weight, greater flexibility and easier transport with ever more efficient power generation as the technology improves.

Our feature, “Textiles and alternative energy” by Debra Cobb may surprise you with less well-known alternative energy technologies—all using textiles, or with the potential for textile use. “Green hydrogen” and carbon capture technology are among them. But sometimes finding a better way to use an energy source that’s been around literally forever can be surprisingly breakthrough. For centuries, maritime cultures built ships with elaborate sails to crisscross the globe. You may think that sailing is strictly a hobby or competitive sport these days, but powering commercial ships with wind is also viable, with sails that can reduce energy use by as much as 40 percent. Check out the feature for more on that. 

The creative use of energy is, honestly, taking off right now. The technologies that incorporate some kind – or possibly many kinds – of fiber or textile material are growing. They might be “hidden in plain sight,” so I encourage you to look into it and ask questions. Even if you don’t make a product that would be essential in one of these new technologies, you might be able to benefit from using one of the techbnologies in your own facility. It could offer a more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable energy solution for you—if not now, sometime soon. 

Janet Preus is senior editor of Textile Technology Source. She can be reached at

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