Massachusetts Could Be Hub for Offshore Wind Industry

New Bedford, Massachusetts, once the whaling capital of the world, was known as ‘The City that Lit the World’ because in the 1800s, whale oil was used for lamps and candles.

Now, the city is posturing for a leadership position in a new US industry – offshore wind. 

To put enormous offshore wind turbines in the ocean, there also must be supporting infrastructure on land.

So, the state is building a $100 million New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to establish itself as the "port" for the offshore wind industry.

The specialized marine terminal will be able to handle the massive turbines, blades, and other components necessary for constructing wind farms at sea.

Once constructed, it will be the first facility in the nation designed to support construction, assembly, and deployment of offshore wind projects. 

The plan is to dredge the harbor and "a 1,000 foot extension to the existing South Terminal bulkhead will be the only one of its kind on the East Coast, reinforced with specialized steel, and built to withstand a pressure of 4,000 lbs per square foot. The affiliated crane will also be specialized as well to handle heavy and cumbersome loads," says Peter Kelly-Detwiler in Forbes. 

Dredging will also remove almost 250,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment caused by industrial waste generated during the 1930s and 1940s.

An award for a general construction contract is expected this spring to have it ready in time to support the nation’s first offshore wind project, Cape Wind.

Offshore wind

In addition to being the closest major industrial port to the Cape Wind Project, the Port of New Bedford is also closest to other areas designated for offshore wind near Martha’s Vineyard. 

The first competitive offshore wind lease sales in federal waters will open for bid this year, one of which is off the Rhode Island coast. Besides Cape Wind, NRG Bluewater Wind off of Delaware has also been approved.

"This Terminal will make Massachusetts and New Bedford hubs of the global offshore wind energy industry, which will generate more than $50 billion in the United States by 2025," says Alicia Barton, CEO of MassCEC.

Just outside of Boston, there’s already a center to test offshore wind blades, The Wind Technology Testing Center. The next step is to develop the requisite port facilities.

Lots of spin-offs could come from this, including offshore wind companies opening offices there (Siemens is already doing that) and they hope to be a hub for offshore wind farm maintenance and servicing. ISO New England is "working on a series of wholesale market reforms that pertain to or impact wind power in New England."

Massachusetts has a goal of 2 GW of wind by 2020, which will mostly come from offshore.

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