With targeted investments and forward-looking policies, the US state of Maine could build on its advantages in the offshore wind industry to increase economic growth and support more than 2,000 jobs annually.
That is the main finding of a report, The Maine Jobs Project: A Guide to Creating Jobs in Offshore Wind, from the American Jobs Project in partnership with the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research (MCBER) at the University of Southern Maine, the Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine, and BVG Associates.
“With demand for offshore wind rising around the globe, Maine has a tremendous opportunity to leverage the state’s competitive advantages and be at the forefront of the industry in the US,” said MCBER director Ryan Wallace. “The Maine Jobs Project demonstrates how our state can capitalise on this opportunity and offers a pathway for growth and collaboration across industry, government and university partners.”
The report said the state’s track record of innovation in floating foundation technology, interest from industry associations, a growing network of composites manufacturers and huge offshore energy resource potential mean that Maine is well-placed to benefit from the rising demand for offshore wind technology.
“The US offshore wind sector is about to take off, and Maine has an opportunity to shape this emerging industry,” said American Jobs Project director and co-author of the report, Mary Collins. “Maine is poised to be a leader in offshore wind innovation, manufacturing and deployment. It is home to R&D activities, legacy industries, and a coastline with enormous offshore wind resource. State leaders have the opportunity to steer the ship in the right direction and bring economic prosperity back to the state, providing thousands of much-needed jobs for communities.”
Based on extensive research and stakeholder outreach, The Maine Jobs Project found that the offshore wind industry could support an average of 2,000 jobs each year through 2030. This figure includes direct jobs from manufacturing and software development, indirect jobs from suppliers and induced jobs from spending in the local economy.
Growth in demand for offshore wind energy is accelerating, with the industry projected to grow 16% annually through to 2030. Maine is home to concrete production and manufacturing facilities and assets that can be used to locally construct wind turbine components, such as floating foundations. Maine could also supply expertise and products to facilitate an expected build out of 7.5 GW of offshore wind energy in the US.
The report also highlights potential strategies to build critical assets for industry growth, including access to capital, workforce development programmes, business recruitment and local market deployment.
Among the recommendations made in the report are re-establishing the Maine Planning Office to provide technical assistance, economic analyses, and co-ordinated resources in support of the state and municipal governments’ economic and energy planning needs; bolstering foreign direct investment to fill critical gaps in the value chain and make Maine a desirable option for offshore wind companies seeking to expand to the United States; and modernising Maine’s economic development strategies to attract and expand new businesses.
Other recommendations include establishing a Northeast Offshore Wind Innovation Center to co-ordinate regional offshore wind R&D efforts, foster engagement with important industry players, leverage investment from the federal government and state governments, and set and achieve goals related to floating foundation technology; creation of an Offshore Wind Business Development Fund to assist emerging businesses in overcoming barriers to market entry, such as high administrative costs and capital expenditure needed to retool operations; and establishing offshore wind certificate or degree programmes to support a skilled workforce.