Workshop To Explore Offshore Wind Business Opportunities

Workshop To Explore Offshore Wind Business Opportunities
New wind turbines at sea1

OCEAN CITY — State and local leaders are meeting on Friday for a workshop aimed at outlining potential business opportunities associated with the future wind farm off the coast of the resort.

Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed Governor Martin O’Malley’s Offshore Wind Act of 2013 after several unsuccessful attempts at passing legislation allowing the for the development of an offshore wind farm of as many as 40 turbines in an area about 10 to 30 miles off the coast of Ocean City. The bill’s passage set in motion a variety of activities including a summer-long survey of the ocean floor in the designated Wind Energy Area (WEA) off the coast of the resort.

While that effort is ongoing offshore, business leaders on land are starting to explore the opportunities the eventual project could have on the local and state economies. To that end, a workshop entitles “Offshore Wind: Opportunities for the Eastern Shore, Ocean City and Maryland’s Maritime Industry” has been set for Friday at the Ocean City Marlin Club in West Ocean City.

The workshop is being sponsored by the Business Network for Maryland Offshore Wind, along with the Worcester County Economic Development Office, the Maryland Energy Administration and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Among the topics up for discussion include an overview of offshore wind development phases, preparation for operation and maintenance, Maryland’s vision and actions regarding offshore wind and a review of other east coast offshore wind. Essentially, the intent is to provide information for state, regional and local businesses to better position themselves to take advantage of the emerging alternative energy market.

“As our state transitions from policy to project, we are working to get Maryland businesses well prepared to take advantage of every business opportunity created through the development of Maryland’s offshore wind energy farm,” said Maryland Energy Administration Director Abigail Ross Hopper this week.

The Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 will create a market for offshore wind and provides a certainty that both a developer and the financial community will ultimately construct an offshore wind energy farm off the coast of Ocean City. The vital early phases of the project will require the majority of the work to be staged from local facilities to provide quick and cost-effective access to the offshore site.

In short, certain Ocean City businesses and other companies on the Eastern Shore will have a geographical advantage in servicing the needs of the offshore wind farm project. According to the Business Network for Maryland Offshore Wind, the smooth running of power generation and transmission equipment face complex challenges in a marine environment compared to those faced with an onshore project, presenting opportunities for experience local marine companies and operators.

“Maryland is significantly poised for substantial economic gains through the development of our state’s offshore wind,” said Business Network for Maryland Offshore Wind Executive Director Liz Burdock. “Operations and maintenance activity accounts for approximately one quarter of the lifetime cost of an offshore wind farm, which is a significant amount of money that can be generated into the local economy.”

The workshop is set for Friday at the Ocean City Marlin Club on Golf Course Rd. at the foot of the commercial harbor from 9:30-11:30 a.m.