Training Course Helps ECs Enter Offshore Wind Industry

By Marlena Chertock | Mar 22, 2021
Offshore wind turbines in twilight

A new training program from the Business Network for Offshore Wind, Towson, Md., a nonprofit focused on developing a robust offshore wind supply chain, aims to help U.S.-based businesses enter the offshore wind industry, according to a February 2021 press release. Its Foundation 2 Blade (F2B) training program is designed to demystify the supply chain, spur innovation and provide a market-entry path for companies.

“The Business Network created the Foundation 2 Blade training program to help companies leverage the economic, job-creating benefits the offshore wind industry has to offer,” said Liz Burdock, the Network’s president and CEO. “It’s only going to get bigger and a local supply chain is essential to that growth.”

The training program occurs over four half-day classes, virtually due to the pandemic. It provides an overview of the offshore wind industry’s structure and operations and highlights products and services local companies can provide.

“F2B is perfect for a company in the offshore wind industry or interested in expanding into the industry at an accelerated timeline,” said Benjamin Brown, director of industry education for the Network. “In 20 hours of class time, which is spread out over four classes, we condense hours and hours of market knowledge building, market research, networking, and interviews with industry experts.”

“All of the F2B modules are relevant to electrical contractors with an ear for business development, especially module 2: siting and permitting, where a project design envelope is assessed, proposed and approved,” Brown said. “Module 3: manufacturing, module 4: construction and installation, module 5: operation and maintenance and module 6: how to get involved will also be of particular interest.”

One of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources in the world, the global offshore wind market is expected to expand significantly over the next two decades, possibly growing by 13% per year, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Offshore Wind Outlook 2019: World Energy Outlook special report. Over the next 20 years, offshore wind is expected to become a $1 trillion industry.

“In 2020 alone, there were 800 turbines and 5.2 GW of offshore wind installed globally, which raised the total installed global capacity of offshore wind to 32.5 GW,” Brown said.

While Europe is a leader in offshore wind technology, according to the IEA, the United States is lagging in building the needed infrastructure. The Network expects U.S. companies will soon diversify into this industry from oil and gas, boating and transportation, aerospace, civil engineering, composites and steel manufacturing.

“The industry is in a race to develop the infrastructure needed to grow, from expanding local supply chains, ordering new ships and port infrastructure buildout to ensur[ing] construction on wind projects can begin next year,” Burdock said. “That means local companies need to position themselves today to take advantage of this rare opportunity.”

Rhode Island was the first state to partner with the Network to provide F2B training to local businesses. The Network partnered with the state’s Department of Labor’s Real Jobs Rhode Island program. Rhode Island—home to the country’s first offshore wind project, Block Island—is currently working on a new project that is 14 times larger.

Many state leaders are driving the market for offshore wind development and support supply chain infrastructure development within their states, Brown explained. The Network is partnering with several states to provide F2B deliveries to local businesses and support this market growth.

Launched in January, approximately 75 people have completed the training program. F2B currently has openings for its April and September courses.

A promising sign is President Joe Biden’s recent executive order, which directs the Secretary of the Interior to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The commitment to create “millions of family-supporting and union jobs in clean energy generation, land restoration, abandoned mine cleanup, plugging of orphan oil and gas wells, energy efficiency, clean transportation, advanced manufacturing and sustainable agriculture across America” is part of the Biden administration’s focus to Build Back Better, according to a U.S. Department of the Interior Fact Sheet.

Offshore wind will renovate and invigorate our economy, according to Brown.

“Offshore wind is a common-sense solution to job creation, economic growth and environmental consideration,” he said. “It is locally produced, which helps stabilize and lower energy prices for consumers. It decarbonizes our energy portfolio, while also bridging the load gap from retiring fossil fuel plants as it invests in local manufacturing and maritime economies."

About The Author

Chertock is a poet and renewable energy and science journalist in the Washington, D.C., area. Contact her at [email protected].

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