The publicly congenial competition between Rhode Island’s Deepwater Wind and Massachusetts’ Cape Wind to launch the first U.S. offshore wind farm and attract spinoffs is intensifying as both energy companies flaunt contracts for the production of wind turbines.
The assembly and deployment of turbines to the offshore wind farms are likely to be a major revenue generator for states that get in early on wind-energy production.
Massachusetts and the city of New Bedford are eager to get out in front for potentially substantial economic returns.
Construction of the state-financed $100 million New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal began in April 2013 and is expected to be completed in December. The multipurpose facility is intended as a hub for assembly and deployment of turbines for offshore wind projects.
“The terminal can handle the extraordinarily heavy components for offshore wind turbines,” said Bill White, director of offshore wind-sector development for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a quasi-state agency. “Some of the components weigh up to 500 tons, like the bottom part of the foundation, the pieces that get driven into the sea floor.”
The 28-acre terminal in New Bedford Harbor has 17 acres specially constructed to support the heavy cranes and heavy loads, he said.
“Where things stand now, the majority of the Cape Wind project will be deployed out of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal,” said White. “We anticipate that in early 2015 Cape Wind will begin to deploy components from the marine-commerce terminal.
Cape Wind, which has a planned 130-turbine project in Nantucket Sound, signed a contract with Siemens in December 2013 for the fabrication and installation of wind turbines and an offshore electric-service platform, along with a 15-year service agreement.
Cape Wind announced on Feb. 26, during the Offshore Wind Power USA conference in Boston, it had secured $600 million in financing for its proposed $2.5 billion wind farm and expects to have the rest locked up by end of the third quarter, Reuters reported.
With a laser focus on the emerging industry, the New Bedford Wind Energy Center was created in March 2013 as part of the city’s economic-development council.
“We created the New Bedford Wind Energy Center as an organizing function for all the parts of the industry – business development, workforce development, land-use planning and supply-chain analysis,” said center Managing Director Matthew A. Morrissey, who was previously economic-development director for the city for seven years.