I’m at the American Wind Energy Association’s first North American Offshore Wind Conference & Exhibition in Atlantic City, New Jersey. As I drove into the land of casinos, the five onshore wind turbines welcomed me and undoubtedly other guests to the AWEA conference and highlighted what this conference is all about: generating clean energy and green jobs.
I started off the day yesterday at the Offshore Wind Working Group just before the exhibit floor opened. Nearly 75 people were present representing offshore wind energy developers, turbine manufacturers, consultants, international agencies, academia, governmental agencies and non-profits. As the chair of the working group methodically worked in counter-clockwise fashion around the country asking for any news on projects from the Great Lakes, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico and finally the Atlantic, it became apparent that the offshore wind industry isn’t confined to the Northeast and that this is a truly continental undertaking.
It was also reported at the meeting that more than 1,200 people are attending this conference from all around the globe.
Next, I visited the exhibition hall. There hundreds of companies have set up their wares to help build the American offshore wind industry. From the very large companies with gigawatt-scale offshore wind portfolios, to the very small companies that sell safety equipment, the conference has a wide array of businesses represented.
Here at the conference, it’s difficult to ignore the job creation potential of the offshore wind industry. In some way or another, the companies and each of the 1,200 people at this conference has a “green job” directly related to the offshore wind industry. Fortunately, the Southeast and Gulf Coast are well represented by utilities, non-profits, universities, and state energy offices tirelessly working to ensure our region benefits from this new industry.