Last week, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) hosted its largest Offshore WINDPOWER Conference ever. With over 1,000 industry professionals in attendance and representatives from the Federal and state governments, Offshore WINDPOWER offered something for everyone. Even someone like me, who joined the wind power industry only earlier this summer.
While many were hustling around the conference looking for new vendors, negotiating business agreements, and learning about industry trends and priorities, I was taking it all in—the optimism, the impressive exchange of information, and a sense of commitment from an industry that wants to do things right.
Our industry is uniquely complex. Walking the expo floor offered an opportunity for both the seasoned and novice professional to learn about the latest technology and research powering offshore wind. From gathering survey data and manufacturing quality components like bolts and blades to logistics and construction, our members are undertaking important new projects. And each firm in attendance had its own perspective and experience to offer.
They’re building a new American industry from scratch—a unique opportunity that doesn’t come around all that often.
At one firm’s booth I learned about how to conduct environmental surveys for developers, which encompasses things like efforts to reduce the effects of noise on marine mammals. Just like with land-based wind, the offshore wind industry strives to practice good stewardship. At another booth I learned about undersea infrastructure like turbine foundations and electric cables. The firm’s representatives explained logistics like permitting and having the proper boats in U.S. ports to do the job right.
On top of the great work AWEA members were exhibiting, the conference also gave a platform for other perspectives to be heard. Representatives from the fishing and maritime industries were present to share their ideas for constructive engagement. Several panels dealt directly with being good neighbors.
Finally, seeing the enthusiasm from the many American lawmakers in attendance was encouraging. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said, “My job is to make sure the government is a partner with you. And I’m bullish on wind.” The insight offered directly from regulators at the conference is just one of the many benefits of attending.
Being new to an industry can be overwhelming. There is a lot to learn, and in the case of offshore wind, things are moving quickly. Fortunately, the offshore wind conference offers opportunities for everyone to get up to speed. As more steel goes in the water, this event will only continue to grow in value and scope. Save the date: Offshore WINDPOWER 2019 will be October 22-23 in Boston.