Atlantic Wind Transfers, the commercial wind-support services arm of Rhode Island Fast Ferry, joined local boat-builder Blount Boats and offshore wind-developer Deepwater Wind for an official Ribbon Cutting ceremony today. The companies will also tour the first offshore wind-farm crew transfer vessel in the U.S., which is currently under construction.
The event at the Blount Boats yard in Warren, Rhode Island, will bring together local supply chain businesses to celebrate the economic benefits of the Block Island Wind Farm project to U.S. firms. Attendees, including U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, will also have the opportunity to see the development of the first offshore wind-crew transfer vessel to be built for the market, and gain an overview of how such vessels are already employed in the European offshore wind markets.
With the first two jacket foundations for the Block Island project already in the water and on site, preparations for the construction phase of the offshore wind farm are well underway. Yet, while Deepwater’s project will provide much-needed impetus for the development of a North American offshore wind-supply chain, it is crucial that the offshore wind-farm development is recognized as the first of many more projects to come.
As such, this Ribbon Cutting ceremony also serves as a catalyst for other U.S. supply chain businesses in Rhode Island to look at the ways in which they can become involved in the fledgling U.S. offshore wind industry, and demonstrate the opportunities created by the market.
According to a Navigant report, the US offshore wind industry could be worth up to $2.2 billion by 2020, with half of this value spread along the Atlantic coast. To fulfill this growth potential, however, the entire market will require greater clarity from the U.S. Government regarding its future offshore wind development intentions.
“Today’s event is a timely reminder that, providing the US offshore wind industry is given the right support, we could be on the cusp of a significant domestic investment, manufacturing and employment success story,” said Charles A. Donadio Jr, President, Atlantic Wind Transfers.
Donadio added: “With only the Block Island project currently confirmed, we’ve already seen a number of supply agreements signed with local firms – ranging from vessel construction, and its associated supply chain, to foundation structures. Building a strong domestic U.S. supply chain increases the chances of being able to secure economic benefits in conjunction with a low-carbon energy supply. But unless this initial momentum is maintained and supported by federal policy, we won’t see these wider benefits for many years to come.”
Marcia Blount, President of Rhode Island-based vessel manufacturing firm, Blount Boats commented: “Today’s event in an opportunity for the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry to see up close another key element of the construction process – that is, the means by which to transfer engineers and technicians to site. By building this vessel for Atlantic Wind Transfers, Blount Boats will alone secure employment for 70 Rhode Island workers.”
U.S. Senator Jack Reed added, “It’s encouraging to see firsthand the economic momentum that renewable energy projects like this are helping to generate. As our nation reduces its independence on fossil fuels, Block Island is demonstrating the tangible benefits of the emerging offshore wind industry and setting a benchmark. By working together, we can build a local green energy industry here in Rhode Island that protects our environment, reduces long-term energy costs, and helps local businesses create sustainable jobs.”
Atlantic Wind Transfers’ first vessel will be launched in April 2016 for early sea trials. It will be active and fully operational on the Block Island project beginning on May 1, 2016
Rhode Island Fast Ferry
Atlantic Wind Transfers