Conference at New York Maritime College
Numerous suppliers for the developing US Offshore Wind Industry supply chain were gathered on 26th September at the State University of New York Maritime College to discuss the opportunities presented by the new marketplace. Wind developers, maritime industry and state officials met to talk about the possibilities.
The conference covered the current state of East Coast developments, which see New York and New Jersey delivering 12 GW of OW energy by 2030. Panels discussed Jobs and the Supply Chain, Wind Farm Port Development, and Offshore Maritime operations.
The college plans to train mariners in wind turbine technology. Unlike Europe there are no common qualifications for the sector. The supply chain will need many different types of skilled worker if the ambitious targets some states have set are to be met.
Maritime Safety Considerations
Safe operating clearances for vessels transiting near wind turbines, in heavily-trafficked sea lanes were a concern. Should the distance be set at two miles or three miles? The US Coast Guard is working on those questions, with its own coast wide study of potential vessel traffic conflicts and needs for safe transit lanes. The findings of this study are expected later this year.
“It’s absolutely critical we have well functioning shipping lanes in and out,” said Capt. Jason Tama, keynote speaker and commander of Coast Guard Sector New York. Other concerns are security issues raised by a new offshore energy industry, and how to safely conduct search and rescue missions near massive turbines, he said, “So there’s a thousand issues we have to work through,”
Supply and Logistics Bases
In addition to Maryland’s first offshore wind energy staging centre at Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,300-acre global logistics base in Baltimore County, Maryland, Ørsted, has an agreement with a German steelmaker to set up a manufacturing hub in southern New Jersey to finish turbine foundations for its Ocean Wind project off Atlantic City, said Fred Zalcman, who heads market development for the Denmark-based company’s US division.
More infrastructure bases could be developed in upstate New York, where Ørsted and Equinor are looking to the Hudson River ports of Coeymans and Albany as bases for manufacturing - floating massive turbine components downriver for eventual transport to assembly at sea on the companies’ projected wind farms on the Atlantic continental shelf.
Wind power ambassadors support the potential of the new industry to revitalise the industrial waterfront of New York City, where city representatives and Red Hook Marine Terminal’s agents in Brooklyn are promoting areas of land for turbine assembly and support bases.
Concerns for the Fishing Industry
Stakeholders were represented at the conference. The commercial fishing industry prevailed upon BOEM to postpone issuing the environmental impact statement for the Vineyard Wind turbine array because of concerns about the effect on fisheries.
Zalcman and other wind company representatives said that they see BOEM assessing individual wind project applications, even while the agency takes a broader assessment of the potential cumulative impacts of turbines which will be placed in lease areas on the Eastern seaboard.
Wind developers are working with one fishing industry coalition, the Responsible Offshore Development Association, to resolve questions of user conflicts and the science of environmental and fisheries impacts, said Doug Copeland, development manager for Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables and Shell to build a wind turbine array in Mid-Atlantic waters.
Fishermen, who have been working these waters for “hundreds of years” were the prime stakeholders who concerned Copeland, who has been involved with talks with surf clam fishery companies.
At this point talking to fishermen is his foremost issue, said Copeland, who’s been involved in talks specifically with surf clam operators. “We really have to take that to heart,” said Copeland. “They’re the users of this resource.”
US Market Attractive to Developers
“When we look globally, the U.S. market really bubbled to the top,” with its attractions of high power demand, a shallow continental shelf for building turbines, and a favourable political climate in North-East states, Zalcman said.
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By Julian Jackson – writer on technology, arts, blockchain and cryptocurrencies