Washington Sees Big Opportunity in
by John Stearns
Washington has the necessary components to be a major player in the burgeoning offshore wind energy supply chain, government and maritime industry leaders said this week while announcing a new collaborative to address a market that can fuel jobs and the economy while helping protect the environment.
The nonprofit organization Washington Maritime Blue announced the launch of the Maritime Blue Wind collaborative to expand the state's leadership in what supporters call one of the largest maritime market opportunities in history. The collaborative will mobilize the state's technical and advanced manufacturing expertise, geographic proximity, deepwater ports, skilled workforce, and industry leadership to power the supply chain ecosystem for floating offshore wind development anticipated off California and Oregon, according to a news release.
Blue Wind aims to protect existing maritime jobs and expand sustainable and equitable employment opportunities for people living in Washington, including shipbuilding, maritime operations, technology research and development, wind turbine and components manufacturing, and materials transportation to offshore sites in Oregon and California, the release said.
"This is truly one of the largest maritime opportunities since the advent of the shipping container," Washington Maritime Blue founder and CEO Joshua Berger said in a statement. "The Blue Wind collaborative will define the roadmap and innovation path to ensuring Washington State's role as we coordinate these efforts throughout the West Coast."
Berger was among leaders who met Tuesday at The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a marine cargo operating partnership of the Tacoma and Seattle ports, on Pier 46 in Seattle to announce and support the collaborative. Others included Gov. Jay Inslee; Deanna Keller, Port of Tacoma commissioner; Ryan Calkins, Port of Seattle commissioner; Glen Bachman, Port of Everett commissioner; Herald Ugles, president of ILWU Local 19; and Sloane Perras, vice president, Foss Offshore Wind.
"More states and countries are looking to offshore wind to generate massive amounts of clean energy — and they need the kind of skilled workforce, advanced manufacturing capabilities, and deepwater ports Washington has to build needed materials and components," Inslee said in the release. "Washington is a leader in building a clean energy economy, and Maritime Blue's Blue Wind collaborative will help Washington seize this opportunity to be a leader in the clean energy supply chain as well."
The Biden-Harris administration has set ambitious goals for offshore wind generation, and both California and Oregon currently plan to generate offshore wind energy by 2030. Washington has yet to define a process for considering offshore wind generation off its coast. More than 65% of projected U.S. wind energy is anticipated to be generated from floating offshore wind, according to data in the release.
Blue Wind will convene its leadership committee in coming weeks to guide the collaborative's priorities and working groups. Blue Wind will be led by the region's port, industry, and labor leaders, and in coordination with tribal, fishing, and coastal communities, to develop the state's offshore wind supply chain strategy and begin building a detailed plan to advance the process in an equitable way, the release said.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Calkins said, "Washington state's industry and skilled workforce are unparalleled in maritime and manufacturing expertise, which gives us a unique opportunity to grow green careers to support California and Oregon's ambitious plans for offshore wind — one of the most promising and least environmentally impactful sources of renewable energy."
Perras of Foss Offshore Wind, the latest development of Foss Maritime in Tacoma, added, "Offshore wind is another generational shift bringing a truly all-encompassing new industry to this country like the automobile, aerospace and software industries. ... It is time the Pacific Northwest showcase our vast talent pool, spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and our unique collaboration across communities to ensure that we play a critical role in the offshore wind supply chain."
Keller, the Port of Tacoma commissioner and managing member of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, said the alliance is excited about the cargo opportunities of the offshore wind supply chain.
"We appreciate the work of Maritime Blue to lead these efforts and look forward to learning more about our Blue Wind Supply Chain and the potential to expand cargo and job opportunities as well as contribute to a clean economy in our state," she said.
Maritime Blue, in partnership with the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, will host a Northwest Offshore Wind Supply Chain Summit on Nov. 16 in Vancouver, Washington, to introduce opportunities for supply chain engagement.
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