SMART-POWER Alliance Sustains Offshore Wind Industry

The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources brings together Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.
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In unity there is power, and the governors of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia know it. The three states have formed the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources. The SMART-POWER partnership’s goal is to advance offshore wind projects in the region and promote the area as a hub for offshore wind energy as well as its supply chain.

Making use of offshore wind is critical to meeting the 100 percent clean energy by 2050 goal and the three states have access to vast resources and assets to help materialize it, including deep-water ports and transportation infrastructure, universities and research institutions, as well as highly trained workforce. The market’s dynamism requires such large-scale collaboration, believes Liz Burdock, president and chief executive at Business Network for Offshore Wind, a nonprofit founded in 2012 and dedicated to building a network that will usher the U.S. into the offshore wind market.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the Atlantic Coast offshore wind project pipeline is estimated to support up to 86,000 jobs, $57 billion in investments and provide up to $25 billion in economic output by 2030. Moreover, along the coasts of the signatories’ states, the net technical energy potential is roughly 900,000 gigawatt-hours per year and the net technical resource capacity is approximately 245 gigawatts.

The wind project pipeline totals more than 27 gigawatts in the Atlantic Coast, and the U.S. Department of Energy projects that the nation has the potential to develop 86 gigawatts of offshore wind projects by 2050. These 86 gigawatts represent a 1.8 percent reduction in cumulative greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to approximately 1.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and up to $50 billion in avoided global damages.

Earlier this month, the state of Virginia announced its first onshore and offshore wind workforce training collaborative—dubbed the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance—which will start offering programs early next year, with the New College Institute, Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy at the wheel.