Environmental Industry Blog

CHANGE attends U.S. Offshore Wind

Author: on June 24th, 2019
Topic: Renewable Energy

CHANGE joined 1,300+ executives, government stakeholders, policymakers, consultants, suppliers and media at the US Offshore Wind 2019, that occurred in Boston, Massachusetts.

Key highlights from the conference include:

The United States has a vast offshore wind energy resource , with a potential resource of more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW), which is almost double the U.S.  current electricity use. Seven states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland) have committed to offshore wind power to date. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued 15 offshore wind leases with a total capacity of more than 21 GW. The lease sales totaled $473 million in bids along the U.S. east coast. New York is preparing to unveil the winners of their first solicitations. On June 22, 2019, Orsted was chosen for the New Jersey lease.  Additionally, Massachusetts is recommending the placement of an additional 1.6 GW of capacity of offshore wind generation solicitations.

Governor Charlie Baker told the audience in his keynote speech that Massachusetts will aggressively pursue a leading role in US offshore wind. The state is focused on doing “offshore wind properly” after becoming the first to support development of a commercial-scale project, the 800-megawatt (MW) Vineyard Wind project.  “Massachusetts will focus not just on projects but also on development of the supply chain, workforce and transmission.”

State policies in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and others are vital drivers for the offshore wind industry. These policies will help achieve scale and develop local supply chains and create well-paying jobs. A study co-authored by New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the Clean Energy States Alliance concluded that 8 GW of offshore wind from Maryland to Maine will create over 36,000 full-time U.S. jobs within 10 years. Besides creating jobs, harnessing America’s offshore wind resources will revitalize ports and coastal communities, improve national security, and deliver reliable energy to America’s most populated areas.

Environmentally Safe Development

Offshore wind developers, working with The World Ocean Council are taking measures to help mitigate conflict between offshore wind and other ocean-based commercial interests. The council aims to develop an adaptive approach and collaborative agreements based on science and data gathering, which include aligning wind farm construction phases with fisheries seasons. Developers are also working closely with organizations such as the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Audubon Society, among others. The NRDC and other environmental groups, for example, came to an agreement with Vineyard Wind to protect the highly endangered North Atlantic Right Whale during the construction and operation of the offshore wind project located south of Martha’s Vineyard. Other initiatives include working closely with scientists to avoid and mitigate impacts to fish and marine mammals.

Workforce Training and Community Outreach

Another strong takeaway from the US offshore wind conference was the importance of bringing stakeholders to the table, being a good partner, conducting community outreach early and often and working closely with tribal interests. A key priority for developers is to   maintain an open, two-way dialogue with local communities, fishermen, and academic communities on how to coexist with existing industry in the region.

Massachusetts provided grants to six academic institutions and labor organizations to establish workforce training and development programs to support the offshore wind industry. The offshore wind industry is poised to create new renewable energy jobs, and these programs represent an important development as the Commonwealth readies for the first large-scale project in the nation,” said Massachusetts Clean Energy Commission CEO Stephen Pike. “With Massachusetts’ proud maritime heritage, robust innovation economy and academic and training assets, the state is very well-positioned to grow a workforce that will contribute to this new American industry for years to come.”

This high employment boom in the offshore wind industry grows the demand for developing educational and research programs, and conducting job training for high school and college students for local jobs in the industry. The Department of Energy spearheads specialized training programs on renewable energy sources across the country in at least 32 states. In Maryland, Frostburg State University  offers an education program on renewable energy focusing on solar and small wind. In addition, the Maryland Energy Administration  launched the Offshore Wind Workforce Development Grant Program last year, which “provides grant funding on a competitive basis to ensure Maryland has a ready and able workforce capable of contributing to the construction, installation, and operations and maintenance of an offshore wind energy project.”

High schools are also offering programs in wind energy. For example, NBC News and The Hechinger Report are collaborating on a series examining how schools can prepare students for wind energy jobs in the future. The third installment in the series describes how a high school in Texas is launching what might be the nation’s first wind turbine technician program for high school students. Students at Bruni High School will soon be able to sign up for courses that they can apply toward an associate degree at nearby Texas State Technical College.

Innovation

The emerging offshore wind industry in the U.S. will require innovation on many fronts. Innovation is important to create benchmarks for development that optimize both fisheries and offshore wind projects. Technologies will have to be developed and deployed to further safeguard marine mammals and avian species from wind farm development. Research and development for battery storage and transmission will require technological solutions to integrate large volumes of intermittent wind power. Many opportunities will be unlocked as the offshore wind industry in the U.S. develops, such as economic growth, a supply chain that creates value across the board and more reliable, renewable energy to meet demand.

The emerging U.S. offshore wind industry is exciting news as speed truly is of the essence when it comes to transitioning our society to cleaner, renewable energy sources. NRDC’s analysis, America’s Clean Energy Frontier, outlines that in order to meet our U.S. climate goals we need to scale up U.S. offshore wind power, together with other forms of renewable and clean energy. It is also vital to ensure that offshore wind projects are sited and built in a way that protects our oceans and ecosystems-in which offshore wind developers have already put these issues to the forefront.

CHANGE is looking forward to being part of history and working with industry partners. For questions or inquiries please contact us at: www.airqualitychange.com