Addressing an audience of offshore wind industry stakeholders last week, Jennifer Carpenter, president and CEO of the American Waterways Operators (AWO), said that the U.S domestic maritime industry is “ready, willing, and able” to partner with offshore wind developers to build and operate vessels to support all phases of the offshore wind project lifecycle.
Speaking on a panel at last week’s American Clean Power Offshore Wind Power event, she highlighted four key steps to accelerate the process:
1) To stimulate supply of American vessels, focus on demand. “A crucial next step is for business people – wind developers and U.S. maritime companies—to get together and talk specifics: here’s what I need, here’s when I need it, how can you help me do this as safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible? Those conversations are happening now and we need to have more of them, because 8 and 9 figure investment decisions get made when there’s a letter of intent, a contract, ‘take-to-the-bank’ assurance that demand exists to recoup investment in a long-lived asset.”
2) Understand and acknowledge the ground rules, including the Jones Act. Explaining that legislation passed earlier this year explicitly clarifies that all U.S. laws, including the Jones Act, apply to renewable energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf, Ms. Carpenter noted: “The Jones Act governs the transportation of merchandise between U.S. points . . . . One important way to stimulate the construction of offshore wind vessels is to get busy talking with U.S. vessel owners about how they can build a U.S. vessel to meet your needs.”
3) Share and spread business risk. “The simplest way to share business risk is a long-term contract,” Carpenter noted.
4) Collaborate to foster certainty and efficiency in the market. “A big part of creating the demand that stimulates investment in new vessels is getting offshore wind projects approved in a timely way, and I encourage you to think of the domestic maritime industry as your partners not only in developing vessel solutions to meet your logistics needs, but in bringing about this important new American market.”