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.

Bloomberg: Gigantic wind turbines signal era of subsidy-free green power

Posted Apr 23, 2017 at 2:01 AM

Manufacturers led by Siemens are working to almost double the capacity of the current range of turbines, which already have wing spans that surpass those of the largest jumbo jets. The expectation those machines will be on the market by 2025 was at the heart of contracts won by German and Danish developers last week to supply electricity from offshore wind farms at market prices by 2025.

Just three years ago, offshore wind was a fringe technology more expensive than nuclear reactors and sometimes twice the cost of turbines planted on land. The fact that developers such as Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG and Dong Energy A/S are offering to plant giant turbines in stormy seas without government support show the economics of the energy business are shifting quicker than anyone thought possible — and adding competitive pressure on the dominant power generation fuels coal and natural gas.

“Dong and EnBW are banking on turbines that are three to four times bigger than those today,” said Keegan Kruger, analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “They will be crucial to bringing down the cost of energy.”

About 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coastline in the German North Sea, where the local fish and seagulls don’t complain about the view of turbines in their back yards, offshore wind technology is limited only to how big the turbines can grow. Dong has said it expects machines able to produce 13 to 15 megawatts each for its projects when they’re due to be completed in the middle of the next decade — much bigger than the 8-megawatt machines on the market now.

Just one giant 15-megawatt turbine would produce power more cheaply than five 3-megawatt machines, or even two with an 8-megawatt capacity. That’s because bigger turbines can produce the same power from a fewer number of foundations and less complex grid connections. The wind farm’s layout can be made more efficient, and fewer machines means less maintenance.

“Right now, we are developing a bigger turbine,” said Bent Christensen, head of cost of energy at Siemens Wind Power A/S, in a phone interview. “But how big it will be we don’t know yet.”

Larger turbines are heavier, placing a natural limit on size, said Christensen. Lightweight materials such as carbon fiber may be required to reduce the heaviness of the rotor and the blades as the turbines grow.

“If we just go 10 years back, nobody could imagine what we’re doing today,” he said. “When you try to predict the future you have to be quite careful.”

The scale of the turbines may not even stop at 15 megawatts. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a unit of Lockheed Martin is working on components for a possible 50-megawatt turbine that would have blades 100 meters (about 328 feet) long.

These gigantic blades would be able to fold away to reduce the risk of damage at dangerous wind speeds. Siemens, along with Vestas Wind Systems and General Electric, are advising on the research program that’s funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

In the nearer term, Denmark, the home of wind energy, last month said it would expand the country’s main offshore wind test site to demonstrate turbines that will soar as high as 330 meters, taller than the Eiffel Tower. That could take the generation capacity past 10 megawatts, enabling turbine makers like Vestas and Siemens to challenge the boundaries of current capacity.

“The question of turbine capacity and wing span has never really been an issue from a technological perspective,” Jens Tommerup, chief executive of MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S, a partnership Vestas has with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, said in an email. “We have already taken the capacity of our 8-megawatt platform to 9-megawatt. The real question is what can the market support.”

Turbines will get bigger if developers and governments allow.

“The answer lies more in stable, visible volume targets rather than the technology itself,” Tommerup said.

A jaw-dropping moment

The auction in Germany was a jaw-dropping moment for industry analysts, many of whom expected a steady decline in prices but not another record. Deep-sea projects in Germany and the cable arrays needed to reach substations off the coast make these developments more complex than in neighboring states. The idea that Dong and EnWB bid for zero subsidy was a shock — and a first for projects of this scale.

“This is a wake up call that the fossil-fuel power industry in Europe is on its way out,” Urs Wahl, manager of public affairs at Germany’s Offshore Wind Industry Allianz, said in a phone interview.

The previous record low price was 49.90 euros a megawatt hour, won by Vattenfall AB in September. Bloomberg New Energy Finance had anticipated bids near 55 euros. The average price in the end was just 4.40 euros per megawatt-hour because one Dong Energy project secured a subsidy of 60 euros per megawatt-hour. The others bid zero, meaning they’ll get paid at market electricity prices.

“This option is opening up now as a subsidy-free production of electricity,” said Magnus Hall, chief executive officer of Vattenfall, in an interview in Brussels on Wednesday. “That really moves offshore into a perspective of continued growth.”

Competition in the German round may have been even tougher than other recent contests because it was the last chance for developers to win contracts for projects they’ve worked on for years, according to Deepa Venkateswaran, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

The “surprise” result highlights that “developers appear to be increasingly banking on scale” including cost cuts expected in the future and perhaps higher wholesale power prices, said analysts at Jefferies Group.

Original Story Here

Birth of a new base industry in New Bedford

It took a century for the epicenter of the whaling industry to shift from Nantucket to New Bedford, and it took half a century for whaling to give way to textiles here.

Things happen a lot faster now, thanks to technology, instant communications and global competition, and by the time this decade is over, the US offshore wind industry will have evolved from a concept to a base energy industry along the East Coast.

Listen to New Bedford Economic Development Director Derek Santos (above) and Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant (below) talk about New Bedford’s position at the center of a new base industry that will supply vast amounts of clean, renewable energy and employ an estimated 43,000 workers by 2030.

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.

Deepwater Wind’s New Bedford office opens Friday

Deepwater Wind, the successful developer of the first US offshore wind farm, will officially open an office in New Bedford on Friday.

The company is opening southeastern Massachusetts headquarters on the top floor of the historic Standard-Times building, 555 Pleasant St. Deepwater Wind’s Massachusetts vice president, Matthew Morrissey, said the company expects New Bedford — home to the nation’s only marine commerce terminal designed specifically to handle the enormous weight of wind turbine components — to play a central role in the buildout of the new offshore wind industry.

It’s been a busy period for the company. In addition to completing its Block Island project in 2016, Deepater Wind recently completed an agreement with a New York utility to build a 90 MW project off Long Island. It also plans to develop another wind project off Rhode Island and expects to be one of the bidders on a 400MW project that will be bid this spring off Massachusetts — part of a new energy law that requires Massachusetts utilities to purchase 1,600MW of power over the next decade.

 

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.

 

Deepwater Wind leading the way on offshore wind

Deepwater Wind, whose five-turbine wind farm off Block Island will come online this month, is moving quickly to establish itself as the early industry leader in the United States.
It’s one of three offshore wind developers expected to bid to build the first industrial-scale wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts. Deepwater Wind also is opening an office in New Bedford, whose Marine Commerce Terminal will be a primary site for assembling and transporting turbine components for 1,600 MW of wind power just south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, as well as other projects along the East Coast

Matthew Morrissey is the Massachusetts vice president of Deepwater Wind, which is opening an office in New Bedford.

Matthew Morrissey is the Massachusetts vice president of Deepwater Wind, which is opening an office in New Bedford.

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But Deepwater Wind, whose Massachusetts vice president is former New Bedford Wind Energy Director Matthew Morrissey, also recently acquired the lease for developing the 120 MW Skipjack wind project off the coast of Maryland and is hoping to build off Montauk Point, NY, as well as another project between Block Island and the Vineyard off the coast of Rhode Island.

Massachusetts, RI, NY…where’s next for offshore wind?

As most probably know, the first offshore wind farm tone built in the United States is located just a few miles off the coast of Block Island.

img_0052But now that Deepwater Wind has finished building that five-turbine project and is supplying electric power at a fraction of what it previously was costing Block Islanders, where will the next offshore wind farm be located?

Activity has picked up sharply since Massachusetts enacted energy legislation that will enable the construction of 1,600MW of power to be developed near Martha’s Vineyard. (That’s enough to power one-third of all the homes in Massachusetts). New York State, Maryland, Rhode Island and others are looking to get started.
Let’s pick up our conversation with Deepwater Wind’s Matt Morrissey, who expects the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island will be important launching points for the new industry — right out of the Port of New Bedford, home to the nation’s only marine commerce terminal build especially for offshore wind, as well as
in coastal cities around the region..

Deepwater Wind’s Morrissey sees big things for his hometown

img_0052Matt Morrissey is a New Bedford guy through and through. He’s run for mayor, sat on the UMass Dartmouth board of trustees, headed the city economic development office and directed the New Bedford Wind Energy Center. When offshore wind captured his imagination five or six years ago, he saw it as a chance to help do something big for his hometown.

He helped form the Offshore Wind Massachusetts advocacy group that successfully made the case that offshore wind could help the commonwealth meet its green energy targets and build a brand new industry that would employ thousands of people in good jobs at high wages. As most people know, Gov. Charlie Baker signed energy legislation last August that required the state’s utilities to purchase energy produced by the three developers leasing federal waters for wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Not long after, he went to work for one of those developers, Deepwater Wind, which recently finished building the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Deepwater and the other developers, Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind, all are committed to using the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to help support the construction of hundreds of immense wind turbines 15 to 25 miles off the coast.

Morrissey sees big things for his hometown. Listen to what he has to say about the advantages the Port of New Bedford enjoys has over anyplace else as the offshore wind industry  takes off over the next decade.