In 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law for the state’s major electric utilities to solicit 1,600 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind (OSW) power by 2027. To identify workforce needs of this edict, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) researched the question and released a report on the workforce needs and economic impact of the emerging offshore wind industry.
The report recognized the variety of workers required in OSW, and looked at three different phases of operations: Planning and Development, Construction, and Operations and Maintenance (O&M). Support services and transportation occupations were also recognized as important jobs requiring workers thoughout the various phases. As OSW is relatively new in the US, the project team assumed a staggered schedule of four 400 MW installations to occur every two years, and looked at low, medium and high scenarios for the installations. In just looking at the construction phase in the next 10 years, the report estimated between 2,270 and 2,170 job-years (one person working full-time for one year) would be created, generating between $675-$800 million in direct economic output for the Commonwealth.
According to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DOE NREL), the waters around Massachusetts have the largest technical offshore wind potential of any of the US contiguous states. Working with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) since 2009, the Commonwealth currently leased 3 areas to Deepwater Wind, Bay State Wind, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners in federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard. The BOEM has two unleased areas to auction for lease this fall. Block Island Wind in Rhode Island, the first OSW farm in the US, began commercial operations of their 5 turbine, 30 MW project in December, 2016.
Due to its young origins in the US, the project team did visit with European OSW industry to provide insight into the economic and labor market impacts to expect. To ramp up OSW operations, it will be necessary to have a trained and credentialed workforce for the OSW industry. Bristol Community College and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy are both well-positioned to qualify for full accreditation. MassCEC has also built the Wind Technology Testing Center for testing wind turbine blades and the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal designed to support the construction and deployment of offshore wind projects.
The report provides additional information on:
- Development of OSW
- Jobs of OSW
- Job and economic impact estimates
- OSW workforce gas analysis
- Health and safety regulatory agencies and industry standards
- Massachusetts OSW workforce training capacity
- Conclusions and recommendations
“Massachusetts is poised to lead the nation in deploying the largest offshore wind farm in the United States,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “MassCEC’s report confirms the incredible opportunities before the state, whether it be training and workforce development, employment opportunities for thousands of workers, or collaborative partnerships between government, academia, and industry.”
You can view the full report, “2018 Massachusetts Offshore Wind Workforce Assessment” on their website.