AWEA’s Offshore Wind Conference Kicks off in Baltimore (USA)

With expectations high and excitement palpable for an emerging segment of the wind power industry that has continued to make big strides this year, the second-annual AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition begins today in Baltimore.

Hosted by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and produced in partnership with the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, the three-day conference and exhibition, which has quickly come to be known as an event where important news is made, takes place October 11-13 at the Baltimore Convention Center and features keynote speeches from U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, as well as a vast show floor and full schedule of educational tracks. Also addressing the attendees will be Henry Kelly, the Department of Energy’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energyand a representative of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration—Michele N. Siekerka, Assistant Commissioner for Economic Growth and Green Energy at the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

“AWEA is delighted to bring its second-annual offshore wind conference to Baltimore, a city that has the potential to become one of many thriving ports for the offshore wind energy industry,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. “The wind industry has created one of America’s fastest growing manufacturing sectors, but stable, long-term policy is imperative to allow this new manufacturing sector to thrive. This week in Baltimore, two of the wind industry’s greatest supporters will help to share this message with the rest of the country—both Secretary Salazar and Governor O’Malley recognize offshore wind’s economic potential and are eager to see America become an offshore world leader.”

Last year, Salazar kicked off the conference by joining Cape Wind Associates President Jim Gordon to sign the first lease for commercial offshore wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf. The conference also comes as offshore wind continues to reach several important benchmarks including:

– In February, Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu unveiled a coordinated strategic plan for the deployment of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030.

– Also in February, Salazar announced the creation of high-priority Wind Energy Areas through the “Smart from the Start” Initiative.

– In March, Salazar and BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich announced the initiation of the process to offer the first commercial offshore wind lease under the Smart from the Start Initiative off the coast of Delaware.

– In April, Salazar announced that BOEMRE approved a Construction and Operations Plan for the Cape Wind project.

– In July BOEMRE issued a draft Environmental Assessment for the Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas off New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

– Just last month, Chu announced $43 million over the next several years to help speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems.

Such achievements have primed the industry for a busy 2012, and Offshore WINDPOWER 2011 will set the stage for continued progress in the offshore arena next year. Across the country, local and state economies have witnessed the economic potential of wind power, which creates thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in local investment. Texas and Iowa are national leaders in onshore wind jobs and capacity, but cities like Baltimore, given their location, hold similar potential in the offshore sector.For instance, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has estimated54 GW of offshore wind would create more than 43,000 permanent operations and maintenance jobs, generate approximately 20.7 direct jobs per annual MW installed, require 1.1 million job-years to manufacture and install the turbines and generate an estimate $200 billion in new economic activity.

 “Given its potential to serve as a hub for the offshore wind industry, along with other ports on the Atlantic Coast, Great Lakes, and Gulf of Mexico, Baltimore is the ideal spot for this conference,” said Chris Long, AWEA Manager of Offshore Wind and Siting Policy. “The over one hundred exhibitors on this week’s show floor are evidence of offshore wind’s impending growth and a sign that this industry is serious about creating American jobs.”

Last year’s Offshore WINDPOWER event in Atlantic City, NJ attracted more than 1,500 wind industry leaders, government officials, and business executives, as well as 120 exhibiting companies. This year the conference will highlight a full range of initiatives in this emerging wind energy industry segment: development opportunities throughout the coastal and lake regions of the U.S., potential rewards of becoming a player in the offshore space, financing options and challenges, and even project design and siting options.

Baltimore was selected as the venue for this premier conference in light of Maryland’s eagerness to capture the winds off its coast. Governor Martin O’Malley has made the promotion of offshore wind a policy priority for his administration.


Source: awea, October 11, 2011