Inslee pushes for Washington to become offshore wind manufacturing hub

Washington government and business leaders want manufacturers of offshore wind turbines to build equipment in the state.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday announced a new effort to make Washington a preferred location for producing offshore turbine components. The Blue Wind Supply Chain Initiative is a partnership with public and private sector leaders, labor groups and research institutions.

“Washington state wants three things: we want clean air, we want clean electricity, and we want clean energy jobs,” Inslee said.

Generating energy from offshore wind turbines is part of a federal strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Biden administration has a goal of generating 30 gigawatts of energy from offshore wind by 2030.

A number of coastal states are already working with the federal government on siting offshore projects, though Washington is not currently one of them. Oregon’s waters may soon be home to two large wind farms in the Pacific Ocean, though controversy over whether the proposed projects could harm marine life or fisheries remains.

Becoming a hub for offshore wind manufacturing could create an “enormous” number of skilled, union jobs in Washington, Inslee said.

Washington isn’t the only place that sees an opportunity. New Bedford, Massachusetts, and New York City are among the other places around the country where officials have pushed to make their communities leaders in the industry.

How many jobs and the number of manufacturers that could come to Washington and what exactly they would be producing, however, remains unknown – partly because offshore wind projects in the United States are still so new.

The U.S. government only approved its first major offshore wind plans in 2021, an 800-megawatt project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Joshua Berger, CEO at Maritime Blue, said those involved in Inslee’s new initiative will meet soon and start prioritizing how Washington can begin establishing an offshore wind supply chain in the region. But first they will need an analysis of what facilities already exist in the state and what might be appropriate to build new.

Inslee emphasized that the industry will likely require a wide range of parts and technology.

“It’s a big deal,” he said.

To meet the federal government’s goal, the United States will need at least 34 manufacturing facilities not currently under construction, said Sloane Perras, vice president at Foss Offshore Wind. These facilities often need to be near water, making Washington’s ports a viable option.

“Our Pacific Northwest coastline is so competitive for the U.S. offshore wind supply chain,” Perras said.

Inslee acknowledged the difficulty in siting and permitting some of these manufacturing projects. He said his office will continue to work with coastal communities, tribes, fishermen, ports and others who use the water to address concerns around permitting.

“We need to design a way to have a rational, transparent process,” he said.

by Laurel Demkovich, Washington State Standard

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.

  1. No enough that eastern WASHINGTON IS littered with hundreds upon hundreds of windmills, now the nearshore coastline is targeted by these (so called clean energy ) zealots. With the danger to sea life still unknown but suspected, why the headlong rush to garbage up Washington’s near shore coastline?

  2. The article carefully addresses manufacturing turbines in Washington while leaving out envisioned placement of turbines in our pacific or Columbia waters. Doubt that this is an accident.
    The world absolutely needs clean renewable energy to survive in a liveable climate. To think otherwise is ignorant and even tragic. This decade, although the hotest, is very likely the coolest our planet will ever be.
    I firmly support Washington doing it’s fair share in producing this CO2 free energy while at the same time putting in our best effort at protecting our beloved fish populations.

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