The U.S. could tap into a vast offshore wind energy resource and better steward its marine environment by galvanizing large-scale research and fostering public-private partnerships, according to a report by the Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Research (POWER-US). The report draws lessons from past industry-transforming initiatives and concludes that similar approaches can be taken to greatly expand the ability of the wind energy industry to generate power and jobs for the U.S. economy.
The report, “Reaching Convergence in U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Research: A Multidisciplinary Framework for Innovation,” is the result of a two-year initiative convened by the Massachusetts Research Partnership in Offshore Wind (MRP) — a partnership of several academic and research institutions. The initiative included nine major workshops and numerous discussions with industry leaders and university researchers across the U.S. and globally. The POWER-US initiative and other efforts across the country are precursors to the collaborative approach needed to transform the wind energy industry.
“We have the potential to become a world leader in offshore wind energy generation and innovation if we put our resources behind the effort and work together to make it happen,” said Fara Courtney, strategic advisor for POWER-US.
The report notes that public investment in research and strong connections between academia and industry have helped advance offshore wind energy in Europe. It describes how large-scale public support and the convening of complementary expertise were critical to the success of other large-scale U.S. scientific and engineering initiatives, such as earthquake simulation, oceanography and materials manufacturing.
The report builds upon these examples and proposes a research and development framework that will enable the U.S. offshore wind industry to grow and achieve long term sustainability. The emphasis on “convergence” highlights the importance of a collaborative approach, bringing together expertise from a wide range of disciplines, including engineering, atmospheric science, logistics, economics, environmental science, and local communities and the marine industry, including fisheries.
Other themes explored by the report include balancing near-term deployment needs with innovation for the long-term; moving state of the art technology and knowledge into standard practice; long-term infrastructure planning; the elements of resilient design; and advancing the public interest in the context of U.S. energy needs, environmental obligations, and the economy.
Members of the MRP include the University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Bristol Community College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The MRP’s work was supported by funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.