The Importance of Planning for Jobs in the Offshore Wind Industry

By Ross Tyler, Business Network for Offshore Wind

The Network presented the importance of planning for jobs at US Wind’s ‘Outreach and Information Series’. The Network originally used the motto: ‘Offshore Wind = Onshore Jobs’. Internet search engines of the motto reveals a Greenpeace report[1] written in 2004 about the expected and accelerated need for a full variety of jobs to satisfy the emerging UK offshore wind sector. The report resembles the present-day U.S. market and some of the parallels could be a warning!

Within the report there are three growth scenarios: 10%, 20% and 30%. The 10% growth rate reflects the present U.S. status with its pipeline of projects approaching 5GW to be deployed over the coming 5 years. Similarly, for the U.S. to reach the National Offshore Wind Strategy of 22GW by 2030, we may expect a shift to match the UK’s 20% growth rate. However, the U.S. will require only a sudden burst of growth from states such as New Jersey or California, and the nation will be at a pace reflecting the UK’s 30% scenario.

What does this translate to with respect to jobs and skills? The Greenpeace report quantifies job totals at the 10% rate with 4,300 Manufacturing and Installation (M&I) and 450 Operations and Maintenance (O&M). Trajectory numbers for 20% after 15 years suggests 42,000 jobs and at 30%, 76,000. The numbers are significant and the topic of how to plan for making the skill sets available at the correct time is complex.

DNV-GL has produced a report[2] for the benefit of the emerging Indian offshore wind market – which resembles the state of the U.S. market in 2010. The report provides an offshore wind procurement list with over 150 key materials, equipment and components – all of which have to be manufactured, supplied or operated. The diversified range in job types added to the complexities of planning. Greenpeace summarizes key groupings of sub-sectors that include: finance; planning and legal; construction and commissioning; cables; electrical switch gear; foundations; civil engineering and turbine manufacturing. Taking a holistic view, 57% of the jobs are primary manufacturing while 7% are secondary. In contrast, 15% of primary service jobs are on site while 25% of secondary service jobs such as financing are not site specific.

While the majority of the service jobs are not site-specific, their scattered geography further adds to complexity of planning (training and availability). However, as the manufacturing and installation jobs aggregate around offshore wind locations, there is a need for training institutions to follow the developers plans which will depend on existing port infrastructure and willingness to invest. Preparing, planning and providing training for jobs based on a cluster with M&I around a single waterside facility or evenly dispersed throughout a single regional port such as Baltimore will be easier to manage but more demanding on the local institutions, compared with the utilization of a network of ports along the coast. Absent of a federal Czar for offshore wind jobs, there is a need for close collaboration between developers, state governments and industry to monitor and grow the levels of the correct job type at the appropriate time and to plan to build on recurring needs so as not to constrict the growth of the industry. The Network, in conjunction with BVG Associates is preparing a report that identifies other industry sectors where parallel skills are found and could be a potential source for the growing U.S. offshore wind market.



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