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Business Symposium Optimistic About Capital Region’s Wind Energy Industry

One of the 10 turbines of the Berkshire Wind Power on Brodie Mountain.
One of the 10 turbines of Berkshire Wind Power on Brodie Mountain.

With the region poised for an industry boom, Albany’s Center for Economic Growth recently held a virtual summit on offshore wind development.

"It's such an exciting time to see this all coming together," said NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen Harris as she welcomed participants to the webinar hosted by the Center for Economic Growth of the Capital Region, one of several meetings following January's announcement that the Port of Albany is to be the first offshore wind tower manufacturing site in the United States.

Denmark built the first offshore wind farm and is recognized as a leader when it comes to wind power innovation.

Denmark's ambassador to the United States Lone Dencker Wisborg says the U.S. is Denmark's closest and most important ally, as well as an important trading partner.

"The newest Danish initiative is to construct an energy island, an energy island with clean electricity for millions of European households, an energy island with clean fuels for ships and planes, an energy island for innovation. The decision to construct an energy island marks the beginning of a new era, we believe of sustainable sustainable energy production. The energy islands will serve as power plants gathering and distributing green electricity from hundreds of wind turbines surrounding the island directed to consumers in countries surrounding the North Sea. The abundance of offshore wind energy can then be used to produce climate friendly fuels for shipping, aviation heavy industries or heavy duty vehicles."

Wisborg says today, more than 70 percent of Denmark's electricity is generated from renewables, with a goal of 100 percent in sight. The country had previously relied on nuclear fuels and coal.

It is anticipated that Capital Region wind projects at the Ports of Albany and Coeymans will reap some $14 billion in investments.

Components of the project at the Port of Albany will include a new state-of-the-art wharf, a new bridge, new and improved internal roadways and more than 600,000 square feet of manufacturing space in four buildings. Officials say the Port's 80-acre Town of Bethlehem expansion site will be transformed into a world class manufacturing facility and maritime operation.

Project participants include Marmen, an onshore wind turbine manufacturer based in Quebec, Welcon, a Denmark-based manufacturer of offshore wind towers, and Norway's Equinor Wind.

Grant van Wyngaarden is Senior Supply Chain Development Manager for Ørsted US Offshore Wind, which has more than 1500 turbines operating globally.

"We see the Capital Region as a critical element of our supply chain for building these incredible projects. The Capital Region has an excellent value proposition to the industry with incredible experiences in advanced manufacturing, research and development. And on top of that, a very experienced and skilled workforce. With and like its grasp in the tech industry, the Capital Region is also very experienced and has an aptitude to transitioning in welcoming new industries. And this is why very established companies globally in the offshore wind industry see the capital region as a critical element. On top of all of that, there's excellent ports, Port of Albany, Port of Coeymans, already established, as great examples. And as you look for similarities in Europe, in the very mature offshore wind market there, there are many similarities between well-established economies import regions in Europe, that resemble the capabilities that the capital region has today, and certainly point to the bright future that lies ahead."

The goal is to manufacture 150 offshore wind towers annually. In his State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the facility will lead to 500 construction jobs and 300 long-term jobs for highly skilled workers. With total project investment pegged at upwards of $350 million, construction is expected to begin in 2022.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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