By Ross Tyler, Business Network for Offshore Wind
The Business Network for Offshore Wind attended the Commercial Marine Expo in Providence, Rhode Island, March 15-16th. In addition to having an exhibition booth, the Network hosted a panel presentation titled: Growing the Supply Chain: Understanding Offshore Wind and its Opportunities.
During the opening remarks, Ross Tyler from the Network explained that the Network was not a developer looking to buy products or services but represented its members, which are mainly U.S. businesses that are the building block of a domestic U.S. supply chain. The Network is helping businesses that offshore wind developers will need to utilize for construction and maintenance of the offshore wind areas.
The Network underscored that Deepwater Wind’s launch of Block Island’s offshore wind facility was the nation’s entrance into the offshore wind market. The total of the U.S. leased offshore wind areas to date, along the east coast, approximates a potential pipeline of 5,000 MW. This figure compares to the UK market in 2004, and equates to approximately 4,500 construction and implementation jobs with an additional 500 positions for supporting 20-25 years of operations and maintenance.
The U.S. is poised to rapidly accelerate the offshore wind industry at a much faster rate than Europe as it has two main advantages:
- proven large capacity generating wind turbines (8 MW plus), and
- offshore wind areas of size and scale (e.g. New Jersey is tenfold larger than London Array U.K.). Both advantages are expected to contribute to the downward trend in offshore wind electricity prices that will result in increased job demand.
The Network introduced two of its members: Luther Blount of Blount Boats and Phillip White of Pharos Marine Automatic Power. Blount Boats shared its experience in selecting the optimal crew transfer vessel for supporting an offshore wind farm. Pharos Marine explained the considerations that went into providing the navigational aids (signs and lighting) for the Block Island offshore wind farm. The Network concluded the panel by sharing photographs from the construction of the Block Island project, taken and supplied by the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters.
The audience, which included suppliers of specialized rope products; safety equipment; anti corrosion products; the U.S. Coast Guard (District 1) and local head charter fishing boat operators, were active with questions involving the wind farm lifetime expectancy and ways to enter into the maintenance element of the supply-chain.