German RWE Renewables, one of the top global companies in offshore wind, will collaborate with Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) and the GNOwind Alliance to build a program that will help existing Louisiana companies, especially in oil and gas, participate in the growing national supply chain for offshore wind. This potential has already been proven with the Block Island Wind Farm, which was largely engineered, built, and serviced by longtime Louisiana energy companies.
Over the next six months, GNO, Inc. will host a series of informational workshops and company-specific interviews with the aim of identifying existing Louisiana companies with transferable capabilities for offshore wind. For example, companies that build oil rig jackets (underwater towers) can do the same for offshore windmills. The goal is to provide leading energy companies, like RWE, with viable supply chain contacts to fulfill their need to deploy several gigawatts of offshore wind power.
“There is a natural translation from Louisiana’s historical strength in offshore oil and gas development and services, to the future needs of offshore wind,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO, Greater New Orleans, Inc. “We are thrilled to partner with RWE to help Louisiana’s companies train their workforce and translate their capabilities to help capture as many of the projected 65,000 jobs in offshore wind as possible.”
According to a recent report by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), the demand for offshore wind projects will drive a domestic supply chain with the potential of supporting 65,000 well-paying U.S. jobs. From turbines to foundations manufacturing, reaching the national target of 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 will require a fully-integrated value chain of suppliers and services companies. The Gulf of Mexico, and Louisiana in particular, has the potential to play a disproportionate role in the responding to the needs of the burgeoining U.S. offshore wind industry.
“Louisiana plans are still in preparation, but our team has had very positive experiences developing supply chain ‘pathfinder’ programs in which we engage with a range of local companies to share information about the specific needs of the offshore wind industry, learn more about their capabilities, and identify new possibilities to bring value to the nascent offshore wind market in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Sam Eaton, Executive Vice President Offshore Wind Development, RWE Renewables Americas.
Offshore wind energy is an important component to achieving Louisiana’s climate emission reduction plans. In its recently adopted Climate Action Plan, the state proposed a goal of 5GW of offshore wind capacity by 2035. In addition, a legislative measure (HB 165) to expand the size of wind leases in state waters cleared the Louisiana House of Representatives and is expected to pass the Senate in the upcoming weeks – further accelerating the deployment of commercial offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on RWE Renewables’ significant experience working in onshore and offshore wind markets, the biggest challenge is often helping companies throughout all tiers of the supply chain understand how they can fit into the new offshore wind market.
“Rapidly evolving innovations in alternative forms of energy, like offshore wind, have created opportunities for new jobs and commerce here in Louisiana,” said Representative Jerome “Zee” Zeringue, of the Louisiana House of Representatives. “In this case, it isn’t a matter of choosing between oil and gas or new energy, it’s all of the above. This is the time to take advantage of decades of experience our companies have in the field, a world-class infrastructure for energy processing and distribution, and a highly-trained workforce and create an environment where success will not just be a goal, but a sure thing.”
“I am excited to see the investment and partnership that RWE and GNO, Inc. are making to accelerate the development of the offshore wind supply chain here in Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “This effort represents another tangible step in the implementation of the state’s Climate Action Plan and will help Louisiana businesses capitalize on opportunities in the burgeoning offshore wind industry.”
“Louisiana has a distinguished history of providing energy to the region and the nation as a whole, and wind energy will no doubt play a key part in supporting our leadership role in that field as we move forward to a more carbon-aware clean energy future,” said Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris.
The announcement of the collaboration was made at the Floating Wind Solutions conference in Houston, March 1, where RWE Renewables was a lead sponsor.
RWE Renewables is engaging with economic development agencies across the country to learn how we can support their supply chain development initiatives.