Bustling Offshore Wind Energy Conference Proves U.S. Industry Positioned for Rapid Growth

Announcements from states and industry leaders demonstrate regional cooperation creating American-made industry

Richmond, Va, Aug. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- North America’s largest offshore wind energy conference successfully concluded this afternoon, bringing together over 1,000 leaders representing more than 600 global companies at the International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum (IPF). The Business Network for Offshore Wind’s annual conference, held this year in Richmond, Virginia, included important industry announcements and included state, federal, and industry leaders. 

The event unofficially kicked-off Monday with tours of Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project and the Portsmouth Marine Terminal. During the three-day event in Richmond, attendees heard messages from Senators, the governors of Virginia and North Carolina, federal government leaders from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of Interior, and Department of Energy Secretary Granholm, state leaders from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, as well as company leaders from Vineyard Wind, Dominion Energy, and Vestas, who provided insights on time-sensitive developments, projects, and policies affecting the offshore wind industry. 

“This past year has been monumental for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” said Liz Burdock, president and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. .Steady progress in state capitals and board rooms and significant federal actions laid the groundwork for the flurry of activity we’ve seen at IPF. Over the past week, attendees have actively collaborated to grow the industry and tackle supply chain challenges. The relationships created at IPF will lead to new business ventures and partnerships that will grow the U.S. supply chain.” 

More than 130 exhibitors engaged with attendees, bringing their companies latest products, developments, and offshore wind solutions. Attendees also interacted with more than 75 field-expert speakers on pressing issues  ranging from U.S. opportunities in floating offshore wind, stake holder engagement, work force development and diversity and inclusion, regulation in the era of climate change. High level, special guests briefed attendees on industry topics and announced important news including a deal between Dominion Energy and the Port of Virginia to create 72-acre area for assembling wind turbine foundations and the first-ever American-made offshore wind substation for the South Fork Wind Project, a partnership between Ørsted, Eversource, and Kiewit. 

“I’ve been heartened to see old partnerships renewed, new relationships forged, and deals struck that will directly expand the U.S. offshore wind industry’s capacity,” added Burdock. “We saw important developments at IPF, including business-to-business MOUs signed and important industry supply chain developments given the greenlight. These new capabilities will lead to regional business growth and export opportunities for American companies.”  

A few key takeaways include: 

  • Data and Information Technology will play a key role in meeting federal offshore wind goals. Speeding up the process the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management goes through to approve offshore wind projects is complex. Sen. Mark Warner believes leveraging data and IT might be part of the solution. “I’m very interested in seeing if there are other ways that we can expedite this approval process,” he said. “The fact that we are not using things like artificial intelligence and other data techniques to speed up reviews. The fact that we’re still taking a couple of years for maritime monitoring as opposed to using other data tools that we can expedite this process.” Members of the Business Network’s Data Working Group agree, the need for IT in offshore wind will only increase. There will be business opportunities to innovate around data and IT, and organizations should create strategies for recruiting IT talent. 

  • Strong support for Senate bill aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing for offshore wind. The Offshore Wind American Manufacturing Act has broad support on Capitol Hill, Sen. Ed Markey said during an IPF question and answer session. Bill White, head of U.S. offshore wind for Avangrid Renewables, asked the question: What legislative opportunities exist right now to help launch this new offshore wind industry? “The biggest thing congress can do right now is to support my Offshore Wind American Manufacturing Act, and ensure it is part of any reconciliation package,” Markey said. “It is a great opportunity that we can’t afford to miss. This is a once in a generation bill that is moving through the United States House and Senate. We have a lot of support for it. We don't know where we’ll be next year, or the year after that, but right now we can get this on the books. This legislation was designed to target the specific challenges that our domestic wind energy industry is confronting.” The legislation  is designed to cultivate a robust offshore wind supply chain in the United States. 

The Network announced today that the 2022 International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum will take place April 26 -28, 2022 in Atlantic City, New Jersey supported by host sponsors Atlantic Shores, NJEDA, Ørsted, and Vestas. 

For more information or to access recordings, contact Melinda Skea at media@offshorewindus.orgor 202-709-9793.

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