Offshore wind transforming English manufacturing cities

The Port of Hull, England, hosts a new Siemens turbine blade manufacturing center. Shown here are 30-story turbine towers ready for deployment, along with nacelles, which weigh 412 tons.

Less than a decade ago, the offshore wind industry was a tantalizing dream in the Humber Region of England, a three-hour train ride north of London.

Today, the region is the hub of a booming offshore wind sector that represents more than 7 billion pounds of investment, thousands of jobs and opportunity for hundreds of local small businesses.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, EDC Chairman Anthony Sapienza and Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant led a trade mission to the Humber Region last week to get a first hand view of how the industry is transforming once-struggling cities along the Hull River Estuary.

The cities of Hull and Grimsby, which are part of the Humber region, were like New Bedford in many ways. Hull, a city of about 250,000, had been the whaling capital of the United Kingdom. Grimsby, with 95,000 inhabitants, was the center of the nation’s commercial fishing industry until Iceland extended its claim over the cod fishery out to 200 miles, essentially excluding Britain’s fishermen from fishing in the best waters for cod.

Both communities had been economically stagnant and felt forgotten by more thriving parts of the country until the offshore wind industry began to stir, thanks in part to government policies encouraging renewable wind to complement the UK’s oil and natural gas industries, centered near Aberdeen.

Today, the Humber Region is the focus of England’s growing offshore wind industry, which leads the world in offshore wind power production, as well as in plans for new wind farms. A new Siemens blade manufacturing facility in Hull already has 800 workers and will will employ a total of about 1,000 by year end. Grimsby, where Dong and E.On have significant presences, has become has become the center of operation and maintenance for offshore wind farms, creating 400 jobs, with an estimated 1,100 by 2025.

The region has drawn more than $9 billion dollars, at the current exchange rate, in offshore wind-related investments, with Grimsby alone seeing $38.7 million over the past three years.

With the UK legally bound to supply 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the total offshore wind investment is only expected to rise. Nationwide, the sector is expected to bring upwards of $142 billion in investments by 2023.

This has already provided opportunity for Humber Region companies within the supply chain, some of which have been started by former fishermen who now provide specialized help and trained employees for the

Mark O’Reilly. CEO of Team Humber Marine Alliance, right, talks about the new Siemens turbine blade manufacturing plant in Hull with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

new industry.

In addition, colleges and universities are training engineers to work within the new industry, and training organizations update the skills of existing and future wind turbine technicians.

The UK last month had its first full day of energy generated without the aid of coal. As the country moves toward a future powered increasingly by renewables, offshore wind is expected to bring continued prosperity to The Humber.

SouthCoast Today – Our View: Dredge the Port of New Bedford to 30 feet

Fairhaven selectmen this week added their voices to the growing chorus looking for New Bedford Harbor to be dredged to its authorized depth.

Dredging to the authorized depth of 30 feet would open the port to more vessels and activity, and would allow the construction of more maritime infrastructure. It would bring millions of dollars of economic activity to the port and many hundreds of jobs. It could be undertaken cooperatively, so that state-authorized dredging and federal dredging for contamination and maintenance could enjoy efficiencies estimated to save about $10 million.

Despite federal programs to maintain ports like New Bedford’s, limited federal money presents a hindrance to their accomplishment. The commonwealth has picked up part of the effort.

Local legislators and public officials are right to raise their voices, knowing that 30-foot dredging hasn’t been done for 50 years. Every hint of momentum for greater economic activity acts as a prod to get more cargo ships, more docks, and new industries into port.

The only concern has been raised by Hands Across the River, which wants protections for people when sediment contaminated by PCBs is moved according to procedures being followed for Superfund dredging. A study released this winter, however, suggests that airborne PCB contamination around the Superfund site exists because of ambient emissions, not because it was disturbed during dredging. Nevertheless, HARC’s concerns aren’t to be casually dismissed.

Budget constraints never fail to change government’s plans, and we are far from confident regarding state revenue projections, which, as usual, continue to be estimated down. We understand those constraints and concerns, but because we do have confidence in the commonwealth to make wise decisions, we will urge the administration’s consideration of port issues — an undeniable priority, considering the lieutenant governor’s vigorous leadership of the Seaport Economic Council — to adjust its course enough to prioritize dredging of the rich, vibrant Port of New Bedford. The port is already delivering revenue to Boston beyond what one might expect from the population. Dredging will bring even more.

Offshore wind industry opens shop in New Bedford

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell (above) welcomed Deepwater Wind’s opening of its Massachusetts headquarters in the former Standard-Times building downtown Friday, saying the city “wants to be the center of it all” as offshore wind matures into a new base industry for the Commonwealth.

“We want the offshore wind industry to form a cluster here,” he said, adding that New Bedford wants not only the assembly and deployment business, and  manufacturing and support services.

“But we also want the front office as well,” he said, as is the case with New Bedford’s top-grossing fishing industry, which brings together labor, capital and research (from the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology).

“We’re not going just to be the city of big shoulders in the offshore wind industry…*(but) the city with the brains and capital as well,” Mitchell said.

Jeff Grybowski (below), the CEO of Deepwater, which last year built the first offshore wind farm in the US off Block Island and next will build a 90MW wind farm off eastern Long Island, said the company has “a string of projects we hope to build in the US in the coming decade.

“New Bedford has always been at the center of our strategy for building out this industry,” he said.

Morrissey, Haddad honored for work on behalf of offshore wind

The selection of Deepwater Wind Vice President Matthew Morrissey and state Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, as SouthCoast Man and Woman of the Year is recognition not only of the  duo’s great work on offshore wind, but also of the collaborative and consistent approach needed to build the new industry.

Morrissey and Haddad deserve great credit for their leadership and years worth of determination to persuade the Massachusetts Legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker, a swarm of environmental groups and regulators, and regional business interests that the state and region could be the launching point for a new industry that would help fight global warming and create vast economic opportunities.

But both Morrissey and Haddad would be the first to admit that it took a concerted effort from the entire legislative delegation, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Economic Development Director Derek Santos, the Port of New Bedford, local colleges and universities, and others to win passage of a new state law requiring Massachusetts’ utilities to purchase 1,600 MW of offshore wind power.

And it will take similar commitment to make sure that the industry, which will start to build out over the next decade, provides the benefits that we all seek. The interests of commercial fishermen, organized labor, marine mammals, coastal communities and business and residential power users all will need to be protected.

In the meantime, we applaud The Standard-Times’ selection of Morrissey and Haddad, and we congratulate the pair for accomplishing something many people would have called impossible not long ago.

Learn what offshore wind means for New Bedford

Events are happening so quickly as  the new US offshore wind industry begins to take shape that it’s hard to keep up. It’s harder still to know what is happening here in New Bedford, which will be home port for much of the work as the industry builds out. Just what will happen here, when will it happen and what will all of that mean?

You’ll have a chance to find out about what offshore wind will mean for New Bedford and southeastern Massachusetts businesses and workers at a Feb. 9 breakfast conversation hosted by the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.

The discussion will feature a panel including:

— Paul Vigeant, managing director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center;

— Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council;

— Ed Anthes-Washburn, director of the Port of New Bedford;

— Matthew Morrissey, Massachusetts vice president for Deepwater Wind, one of three developers looking to build wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

They’ll talk about what the building of an offshore wind industry will likely mean for New Bedford and other Massachusetts and Rhode Island coastal cities. Deepwater Wind recently began producing electrical power at its wind farm just off Block Island and is expected to bid next spring on  a contract to build 400 MW of power on leased federal ocean waters 15 to 25 miles off the Vineyard. The Port of New Bedford is home to the nation’s only Marine Commerce Terminal built especially to accommodate the assembly and shipping of enormous offshore wind turbine components, and the New Bedford Economic Development Council and the Port of New Bedford are deep into planning how best to accommodate and encourage the growth of the new industry.

The discussion is part of the Chamber’s popular Good Morning SouthCoast series and will be held at 7:30 a.m. at the Waypoint Convention Center at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 185 MacArthur Dr, New Bedford. Contact the Chamber for reservations.

 

3,000 percent increase in offshore wind capacity?

The growth prospects for the offshore wind industry? How about a 3,000 percent increase by 2045?

That’s the forecast for growth by the International Renewable Energy Agency, which released a report that stated that technology improvements, along with the entry of the United States and India into the industry, will help drive the expansion.

 

Experienced marine workforce gives New Bedford the edge

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It’s not just that New Bedford is located only half a day’s sale from the site of the new offshore wind farms that will be built just south of Martha’s Vineyard over the next decade, providing Massachusetts more than 10 percent of its power needs.  And it’s not just that the Port of New Bedford is home to the nation’s only Marine Commerce Terminal built specifically for the needs of the new industry.

New Bedford is also home to thousands of workers who have experience working in a marine environment and access to training programs that are already in place or being developed, A partnership involving Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and the Mass. Maritime Academy is studying the types of jobs and skills that will be required and will help lay the groundwork for an integrated training program that can serve the new industry…and provide hundreds of new, good-paying jobs.

An ideal workforce will have “have this blend of technical skills that you can do in a marine environment,” said Paul Vigeant, the vice president for workforce development at Bristol Community College and the director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center. “That differentiates New Bedford from any place in North America. . . .We have the individuals with the trade skills that can be applied in a marine environment.”

“It’s one thing to know how to fix an electrical machine. It’s another thing to be able to to fix it on  top of a 35-story building in the middle of the ocean.”

 

New Bedford again tops nation for dollar value of fishing catch

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NEW BEDFORD — The city’s port has again topped the country for dollar value of its fishing catch, NOAA Fisheries reported this week, citing 2015 landings worth $322 million.

That marks 16 years in a row that New Bedford has held the top-value title, which is thanks largely to scallops. Dutch Harbor, Alaska, again was tops for total volume of catch, landing 787 million pounds last year.

New Bedford’s catch was much smaller: 124 million pounds, good for only 11th in the country and far behind Dutch Harbor. But Dutch Harbor’s catch had a value of $218 million — second-highest in the country — reflecting the strong commercial value of New Bedford’s scallop industry.

“The scallop industry has put New Bedford at the top of the food chain, as it were, of fishing ports for the last 16 years — that’s a very impressive streak,” said Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission. “It really shows the impact of scallops but also the impact of cooperative research.”

In the 1990s, SMAST scientists Brian Rothschild and Kevin Stokesbury pioneered innovations in counting scallops, with cameras tested and used on local scallopers. The resulting data affected stock assessments by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ultimately leading to larger catch quotas and helping secure steady catches for waterfront businesses.

Many local fishermen credit the scientists and their teams with reviving the regional scallop industry.

“The reason scallops are so valuable is because our businesses were able to build business plans around the catch,” Anthes-Washburn said. “We’re reaping the benefits of good cooperative science, and solid relationships between the regulators, the fishermen and the scientists. I think it shows you what can happen when fishermen are a big part of the data collection.

“It’s the model that we’re (now) trying to use for the groundfish industry,” Anthes-Washburn said.

The annual catch reports, released by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, showed that New Bedford’s catch dipped by about 11 percent last year, falling from 140 million pounds in 2014 to 124 million in 2015. The 2013 catch totaled 130 million pounds.

Dollar value dipped, as well, but only by about 2 percent, from $329 million in 2014 to $322 million in 2015. New Bedford’s catch in 2013 had a value of $379 million.

Keeping those numbers up not only will be vital for the fishing industry and regional economy, but also for city leaders, who often tout the port’s top status when representing and promoting New Bedford at events in other areas.

“When I speak to audiences outside the city, I never miss an opportunity to proclaim that New Bedford is America’s top commercial fishing port,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said Friday. “We’re proud of the success of an industry that is central both to our region’s economy and its identity, and we as a community must continue to support its vitality in the long run.”

Port director lands key economic post

Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission, has been named to a two-year term as chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) Maritime Economic Development Committee, the city announced Friday.

The AAPA advocates for the seaport industry in the Americas and includes more than 130 public port authorities, in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.

“The Port of New Bedford is the center of the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast, the launching pad for America’s offshore wind industry, and a dynamic and diverse economic engine for Massachusetts,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “The naming of (Anthes-Washburn) to an important leadership role at the AAPA is a recognition of the national significance of our port, and Ed’s exemplary work in helping develop it into its full potential.”

Anthes-Washburn said his goal as chairman will be to foster strong relationships and increase dialogue between ports across the nation and beyond.

“As director of the most valuable fishing port in the country, I am honored to represent New Bedford at the national level and help further strengthen the economic impact of the Port of New Bedford, as well as ports throughout Canada and the Americas,” he said.

Anthes-Washburn, 31, was appointed port director in October 2015. He had served as interim director since June 2015, when former director Jeffrey Stieb stepped down, and also was interim director in September 2012, before Stieb took the position. He previously was the Harbor Development Commission’s director of operations from 2010 to 2012.

Mike Lawrence

Study: Port of New Bedford has $9.8 billion value

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NEW BEDFORD — The Port of New Bedford had a $9.8 billion economic value in 2015 and generates more than 36,000 jobs in the region, according to a new state-funded study that city and waterfront leaders hope will spur additional state investment in harbor dredging and other improvements.

The study indicates the local port’s economic impact is comparable to that of the Port of Boston, which generated more than 50,000 jobs and had a total economic value of $4.6 billion in 2012, according to Martin Associates. The Pennsylvania-based firm also studied the Port of Boston’s economic impact in 2006, for the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), and has examined economic impacts of seaport activity in more than 120 U.S. and Canadian ports, from Seattle to Tampa.

Martin Associates also conducted the $80,000 Port of New Bedford study, which was funded by a grant from the state’s Seaport Economic Council and included interviews and surveys with 147 companies involved in local harbor-related business.

The port’s $9.8 billion economic value last year, “consists of the direct business revenue of $3.3 billion, the re-spending and local consumption impact of $429.4 million, and the related user output of $6.1 billion,” the study states.

Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission, said much of that impact comes from the waterfront’s seafood processing industry — and called the study’s results eye-opening.

“The value and number of jobs that’s associated with the processing industry is staggering,” he said last week. “The fact that that’s coming out of one, relatively small geographic area and provides so much value to the commonwealth as a whole, I think that’s what was surprising to me.”

The port’s value to all of Massachusetts is significant.

The $9.8 billion figure, “represents the sphere of influence of the processors, cargo operators, maritime services, ferries and harbor tours, as well as marinas in 2015, and accounts for 2 percent of the $481.6 billion gross domestic product for (Massachusetts),” the study states.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said the analysis, “demonstrates clearly that the port is not only the centerpiece of the region’s economy, but also a major contributor to the overall Massachusetts economy.

“What is perhaps most illuminating is that it debunks the assumption that the Port of Boston is the only major industrial port in Massachusetts,” Mitchell added. “I believe that the study should light the way for important infrastructure investments in the Port of New Bedford in the years ahead.”

The study emphasizes potential benefits from increased harbor dredging.

“In New Bedford, the federal navigational channel has not been dredged to its authorized depth in more than 50 years,” it states. “As with all infrastructure, continued investment in dredging is greatly needed for the working waterfront to not only work at full capacity, but to create incentive for businesses to continue growing and investing in the city’s economy.”

Shoreline areas including the Marine Commerce Terminal, State Pier and more have been dredged since 2003, in the first four phases of an extensive project to restore the harbor to its federally authorized depth of about 30 feet, potentially enabling more ships and heavier cargo loads.

Roy Enoksen, president of Nordic Fisheries on the waterfront, said a deeper harbor could benefit all users along the city’s coast.

“It’s a big harbor here, but there isn’t a lot of water,” Enoksen said. “The lack of water is really a reason why the harbor isn’t maybe a little more busy than it is.”

Enoksen said Nordic Fisheries has 15 scallopers in its fleet, with another 15 boats that utilize the same docks. He said that as he looked across the harbor Wednesday, he saw plenty of room for growth.

“There’s an awful lot of space here that isn’t utilized because it isn’t deep enough,” he said. “But if you look at the places where boats can tie, it’s full.”

Anthes-Washburn said the fifth phase of dredging is planned near 25 commercial properties along the waterfront, on both the New Bedford and Fairhaven sides. Targeted areas include the Fairhaven Shipyard, Seaport Inn & Marina, Packer Marine, Moby Dick Marina, the Mar-Lees seafood processing plant and more.

When city and waterfront leaders approached Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration last year to request money for harbor dredging, state officials requested an economic study to quantify the potential impact.

With the Martin Associates data now on the books, Mitchell, Anthes-Washburn and others are hoping the state will view the Port of New Bedford as a strong investment.

Anthes-Washburn said the city is proposing a total cost to the state of about $20 million over five years, for a project that also could leverage about $75 million in federal dollars — and create about 900 new, permanent jobs, Martin Associates said, including about 400 that are directly generated on local waterfronts.

The study states that combining the fifth phase of local dredging along with long-overdue dredging of the federal navigational channel could create savings of nearly $10 million, primarily through use of a new, shared CAD cell in the harbor, to store dredged materials.

Anthes-Washburn said the city’s immediate cost need is $1.5 million, to design that CAD cell — and, ultimately, to keep the city’s working waterfront working.

Martin Associates said of the 36,578 jobs generated by the Port of New Bedford in 2015, 6,225 were directly generated by the seafood industry, marine cargo and marinas. Ninety-five percent of those workers live in Bristol County, the study states.

“Not only do you need dredging to ensure that those 6,200 jobs stay there, but with the additional berth dredging we can get another 900 jobs,” Anthes-Washburn said.

Martin Associates said annual economic benefits from the fifth phase of local dredging, and the federal navigational channel, could include more than $21 million in direct local income, nearly $26 million in local purchases and more than $11 million in state and local tax revenue.

“We have an opportunity to actually grow the fishing industry and get deeper ships if we’re brought down to our federally authorized depth of 30 feet,” Anthes-Washburn said. “There’s potentially a really big upside.”

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