(OE) An offshore wind hub is coming to the site of the former Avondale Shipyard in Louisiana as the region ramps up to service the growing renewable energy industry in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
New Orleans-based Gulf Wind Technology (GWT) announced Monday it is collaborating with energy supermajor Shell to establish a research, training and technology demonstration program at GWT’s facility within the Avondale Global Gateway in Jefferson Parish.
The news comes after the Biden administration in February proposed the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the government’s plan to spur offshore wind deployment beyond the East Coast.
Supported by a $10 million investment from Shell, the Shell Gulf Wind Technology Accelerator will be a hub for offshore wind energy development as the companies work to design the first suite of products optimized for conditions in the Gulf. The first turbine is expected to be ready for demonstration as early as next year. The Accelerator will also house an offshore wind workforce education and training program.
GWT said it will create 30 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $83,000. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 54 new indirect jobs, for a total of 84 new jobs in the Southeast Region.
“Wind resources in the Gulf region are more variable than what you find on the East Coast where most of U.S. offshore wind development activity is currently happening,” said James Martin, GWT CEO. “Seasonal hurricane conditions and moderate average wind speeds create a situation that requires a novel approach to the application of technology and the framework in which it is both developed and demonstrated. The Shell Gulf Wind Technology Accelerator program has been specifically created to address and fulfill this need and enable next steps for the region and for the industry.”
“Shell has been operating in the Gulf of Mexico for over six decades and has a long history of developing energy projects, including advancing and proving deep-water technologies,” Vice President of Shell Offshore Power Americas Amanda Dasch said. “We see opportunities to do the same for offshore wind in this region and are proud to support Louisiana’s 5GW offshore wind target by 2035. This $10 million investment to create the Shell Gulf Wind Technology Accelerator Center allows us to advance offshore wind development in the Gulf, while providing local wind industry training opportunities.”
Based in the redeveloped Avondale Global Gateway industrial park acquired by the Port of South Louisiana in January, wind turbine rotor technology company GWT’s headquarters consists of a 30,000 square foot technology facility, an advanced composites lab and access to more than 1.5 million square feet of manufacturing and fabrication space with on-site railway, road and barge access.
“The Shell Gulf Wind Technology Accelerator represents a milestone in the development of Louisiana as a hub for offshore wind,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans (GNO), the economic development agency for southeast Louisiana. “Combining the scale of Shell with the expertise of Gulf Wind Technology, the Accelerator will help Greater New Orleans develop the assets and workforce to power the energy future of the Gulf South, and the country.”
To secure the project in Avondale, the state of Louisiana offered Gulf Wind Technology an incentives package featuring the comprehensive workforce development solutions of LED FastStart. The incentive package also includes a performance-based $375,000 award through the Economic Development Award Program to support site infrastructure improvements. In addition, the company is expected to participate in the Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
“As the world transitions to cleaner energy, Louisiana is leading the way, creating jobs and diversifying our economy in the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “I applaud Gulf Wind Technology and Shell for seizing the opportunity that the new energy economy represents for Louisiana. With a skilled workforce in place and a climate action plan goal of 5 gigawatts of offshore wind power by