If wind energy stakeholders needed more proof that offshore wind energy is poised for takeoff in the U.S., they needed only to check in with the Business Network for Offshore Wind’s (BNOW’s) International Partnering Forum last week in Newport, Rhode Island. The forum was filled beyond capacity.
“We had no idea that it would have this demand,” said Liz Burdock, Executive Director of BNOW, adding “I thought at the most we would have 300 people and we are pushing 450.”
The forum brings together experienced European players in the offshore wind industry and U.S. companies that are interested in learning about and working on offshore wind energy projects in the U.S.
The International Partnering Forum (IPF) began in 2014 with an event aimed at bringing a delegation of Danish offshore wind experts, a group of German offshore wind experts and some UK experts over to the U.S. to “encourage people to know more about how to manufacture, install, construct offshore wind,” said Burdock. The first event resulted in a few partnerships and good relationship building.
The 2015 event drew about 225 people but this year’s event blew that number out of the water, representing 100 percent growth.
“It’s been amazing,” said Burdock. Even after the group shut down registration, “they still kept coming,” she said.
Interest from Oil and Gas Industry
Burdock estimates that at least 20 percent of attendees are from the offshore oil and gas industry in the U.S. Offshore wind is a direct outgrowth of offshore oil and gas.
“I’m getting calls pretty much every week from the oil and gas guys talking about diversification, which I think is fantastic,” she said.
“What I always tell the suppliers is it’s an outgrowth but it’s not exactly the same,” said Burdock. “There are nuances to [offshore wind] that you need to understand and that you need to get educated about,” she added.
There are currently 20 proposed offshore wind farms in the U.S. coastal waters and great lakes with key players eyeing many more.
In 2017, the IPF will be held in California where the prospect of floating offshore wind technology holds promise. Burdock believes the U.S. could lead the world in the development of floating wind technology.
“We are not behind Europe on floating wind so that’s someplace that we could really catch up,” she said.
“There is a huge market for floating; it opens up a lot of water.”
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