Celebrated since 1982, June 8th marked World Oceans Day. It’s a time to take a moment and reflect on the tremendous resources our oceans provide, how we can protect them, and what we need to do to sustainably manage them for future generations. And this year, it’s hard to consider our oceans without also considering offshore wind, which has been front and center at CLEANPOWER 2021.
After years of starts and stops, offshore wind is poised to take off in the United States. The final permits have been issued for the Vineyard Wind project, the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in U.S. waters, and just last month the Biden-Harris Administration took critical steps toward harvesting the winds off the West Coast. Protecting our oceans means combatting climate change, which is having widespread negative impacts on them. Offshore wind is a core solution in transitioning to a low-carbon future, and harnessing the winds that blow over the oceans will play a key role in protecting them.
We should also consider the ocean’s role in our economic well-being—over $300 billion of U.S. economic activity is connected to the oceans and Great Lakes. As offshore wind takes hold in the United States, it could create over 83,000 new jobs by 2030, establish an entirely new domestic supply chain, and foster new opportunities in coastal and port communities.
These issues were at the forefront of the CLEANPOWER Virtual Summit this week. The 2021 theme is “Accelerating the Energy Transition,” and offshore wind will certainly be a key contributor to reach our nation’s goals of transitioning to low-carbon, clean energy sources. During our Day 3 Live Keynote Interview Series on Wednesday, June 9th, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm highlighted the 50-state economic and jobs footprint that a transition to a clean energy economy would enable for communities across the country, including specifically for both rural and traditionally underserved communities:
“West Virginia is helping to manufacture hundreds of tons of steel to be used in our nation’s first #OffshoreWind project…I firmly believe that if clean energy is a boon for West Virginia it’s going to be a boon for every state in America.” – @SecGranholm at #CLEANPOWER2021. pic.twitter.com/Bz84OEPR0W
— American Clean Power (ACP) (@USCleanPower) June 9, 2021
And during part 1 of CLEANPOWER 2021’s U.S. Offshore Wind Developers Series, the country’s offshore wind industry leaders echoed the jobs-creating potential that offshore wind will bring to the country during one-on-one conversations with Recharge Editor-in-Chief Darius Snieckus:
- “As the first project we always knew we would be at a disadvantage in the sense that because you are the first project you cannot expect the supply chain, the factories, the workforce to be here, so we’ve taken a mission approach…we have also worked with organized labor in making sure that these jobs that we are creating are good and well-paying jobs and will create lasting economic benefits for individual families as well as the regions where we operate. We have done a lot, but this is only the beginning. This is the first step of the staircase that will lead the industry to become truly American over the next 4-5 years.” – Lars Thaaning Pederson, CEO Vineyard Wind.
- “We see the job potential as massive in this industry. And we also see it as a platform to not only bring green electrons to the grid but to restore the middle class and solve environmental justice challenges.” – David Hardy, CEO, Ørsted North America, Offshore
- “The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminals…was a project built with organized labor. We entered into a project labor agreement and really had an extraordinary workforce there…Because of the leadership of the state of Massachusetts in making that investment it is really going to be a catalyst and a center for the jobs not only for the Vineyard Wind project but for future projects.” – Bill White, Vice President, Offshore Wind, Avangrid Renewables
- “I think [having the first Jones-Act compliant U.S. wind installation vessel being built] serve[s] as a mark of what the industry can bring. That’s a $500 million dollar investment, but not only an investment, it’s U.S. jobs. And you think offshore wind is only concentrated in the Northeast but it’s thousands of jobs in Texas, steel is supplied from Alabama, North Carolina and West Virginia…It serves as an indication of what’s come and an early indication of what offshore wind can bring.” – Mark Mitchell, SVP Project Construction, Dominion Energy.
Registered CLEANPOWER guests can access this full session on our event dashboard here. And during Thursday’s final day of CLEANPOWER, we’ll hear from more leaders in offshore wind including:
- Enrique Alvarez-Uria, Country Manager US, OW, Ocean Winds
- Jeff Grybowski, CEO, US Wind
- Lars Gonschorek, Acting President & CEO, EnBW North America
- Siri Espedal Kindem, President, Equinor Wind US
- Dominik Schwegmann, Head of Offshore Development Americas, RWE Renewables
- Joris Veldhoven, Commercial and Finance Director, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind
- Moderator: Darius Snieckus, Editor-in-Chief, Recharge
Lastly, as we as an industry look forward to gathering together again in-person to celebrate this forward momentum for American offshore wind, ACP’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition this fall will offer a chance to continue the offshore wind conversation. Held October 13- 15 in Boston, our in-person event has cultivated a dedicated and thriving global community of top developers and experts, and as more steel goes in the water, this event will only continue to grow in value and scope. This Offshore WINDPOWER 2021 Conference & Exhibition will also feature a virtual attendance option. Interested in attending, exhibiting or sponsoring? Get all the details on our event website.