The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has released a report on the workforce needs and economic impact of the emerging offshore wind industry, finding that the deployment of 1,600 MW of offshore wind is estimated to create between 2,270 and 3,170 job years — defined as one person working full-time for one year — during construction over the next 10 years and generate between $675 million and $800 million in direct economic output in Massachusetts.
The Offshore Wind Workforce Report, sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and authored by Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, also provides analysis and recommendations to guide the training and development needs for the offshore wind industry workforce in Massachusetts.
In 2016, Governor Baker signed bipartisan energy diversification legislation authorizing the largest procurement of clean energy generation in Massachusetts’ history, including approximately 1,600 MW of offshore wind energy and approximately 9,450,000 megawatts-hours (MWh) of clean energy, including large-scale hydropower.
“The results of the Offshore Wind Workforce Report highlight the incredible economic opportunities created by the energy diversification legislation signed by Governor Baker, in addition to ensuring the procurement of cost-effective, locally produced clean energy that will help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The offshore wind sector is poised to create thousands of well-paying job opportunities in the Commonwealth, and through identifying the necessary training and credentials required, this report will help prepare Massachusetts workers to take full advantage of the industry’s significant job creation potential.”
Additionally, the report found that between 140 to 255 operations and maintenance job years will be generated and sustained annually throughout the 25-year life of an offshore wind farm. When taking into account direct, indirect (supply chain), and induced impacts, the deployment of 1,600 MW of offshore wind is estimated to support between 6,870 and 9,850 job years over the next ten years and generate a total economic impact in Massachusetts of between $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion.
“The information in this study will be critical to developing a workforce that can contribute to the emerging offshore wind industry,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “With our proud maritime heritage and robust innovation sector, Massachusetts workers are well-positioned, with the necessary training, to participate in this new American industry.”
To ensure the Commonwealth can maximize the economic benefits of the emerging industry, the assessment identifies the critical offshore wind workforce and training needs and makes recommendations for collaborative action between industry, government, educational institutions, and labor to ensure that Massachusetts has a trained and ready offshore wind workforce.
The report details the specific education, skills and health and safety credentials required for each job associated with developing offshore wind projects, including engineers, technicians, marine scientists, crane operators, divers, construction workers, water transportation workers, steel workers, and electricians, among others.
The Offshore Wind Workforce Report also identifies recommendations and strategies to better position the state’s educational institutions and training centers to develop and serve a burgeoning offshore wind workforce, including recommending strategic investment in curriculum development, courses, equipment and facilities necessary to provide in-state training and certification programs.
“This report identifies clear actions that Bristol Community College can take to train Massachusetts workers for the offshore wind industry. With the only offshore wind certificate and associate degree programs in the United States, BCC will provide workers with the technical skills and safety training required for success in offshore wind,” said Bristol Community College President Laura Douglas. “The college has collaborations in place with developers, equipment manufacturers, and key union organizations to use best practices in training and competency solutions to prepare workers.”
To capitalize on the opportunities identified in the report, MassCEC plans to issue a request for proposals to fund initiatives that support the development of a trained and ready Massachusetts offshore wind workforce.
“This study demonstrates the job-creating potential of offshore wind development and further solidifies our region as the epicenter of the blue economy,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson said. “Fully realizing the economic benefits of offshore wind and other components of the marine sector now requires an unprecedented level of regional partnership among communities, industry, and educational institutions.”
“In order for the offshore wind industry to flourish here in New Bedford, our region’s institutional assets must continue to work collaboratively,” added State Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral (D-New Bedford). “MassCEC’s report highlights the potential for significant job growth, so long as we develop a strong, knowledgeable workforce. The networks we’ve built over the years — our regional universities, state entities, and business leaders — will propel us in the right direction.”
MassCEC is funded by the Renewable Energy Trust, which was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998. A systems benefit charge paid by customers of investor owned utilities and five municipal electric departments that have opted into the program funds the trust.