Massachusetts Governor announces $700,000 in funding for offshore wind research

Source: By Michelle Froese, Wind Power Engineering & Development • Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The funding – from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Renewable Energy Trust – will support three offshore wind research projects to identify industry workforce training and safety requirements, establish a multi-university partnership

The funding will support three offshore wind research projects to identify industry workforce training and safety requirements, and establish a multi-university partnership focused on cost-effective Massachusetts’ offshore wind power.

The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced $700,000 in funding for nine academic and research institutions across Massachusetts to advance studies relating to offshore wind development, building on the Commonwealth’s existing nation-leading offshore wind innovation activities.

“Tapping into the Commonwealth’s world-class academic and research institutions will make Massachusetts a leader in the growing offshore wind sector in the United States,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These research projects will identify ways to make offshore wind projects more cost-effective and beneficial to the ratepayers of Massachusetts.”

The funding will support three offshore wind research projects to:

  • Identify industry workforce training and safety requirements;
  • Establish a multi-university partnership focused on innovation, driving down costs; and
  • Develop a new technique to monitor the structural health of wind blades.

“These projects will help further establish Massachusetts as a leader in this emerging industry and position our institutions to compete for federal research funding in the future,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The development of cost-effective offshore wind projects will help diversify the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio, while reducing our carbon footprint.”

“Cost-effective offshore wind has the potential to be a major part of the Commonwealth’s energy supply, helping us reach our greenhouse gas reduction targets,” added Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This research funding will put the Commonwealth’s technology and innovation expertise to work and help ensure that offshore wind achieves its fullest potential.”

Funded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)’s Renewable Energy Trust, the research is part of a broader initiative to make the Commonwealth a national leader in offshore wind research and development. By leveraging the expertise of Massachusetts colleges, universities and research centers, these projects are designed to expand local offshore wind expertise while making projects more affordable for developers and ratepayers.

“Our concentration of academic and research institutions and our innovation ecosystem are uniquely equipped to advance the emerging national offshore wind industry,” said MassCEC Interim CEO Steve Pike. “These projects will enhance Massachusetts reputation as a hub of innovation for the offshore wind industry.”

The following academic and researching institutions will receive funding:

  • Bristol Community College, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy – $248,000 – Bristol Community College will lead an effort to identify the workforce requirements associated with the development and construction of offshore wind projects, examining the number of jobs by trade, the health and safety training requirements for offshore wind jobs and the economic benefits to the Commonwealth these jobs would provide. This effort will help to establish training and health and safety programs to maximize local employment and ensure worker safety.
  • The Massachusetts Research Partnership in Offshore Wind –$300,000 – Six Massachusetts academic and research institutions – Northeastern University, Tufts University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution – will develop a multi-disciplinary framework for offshore wind research, focusing on increasing innovation within projects and reducing costs by examining risks, finances and regulations associated with the industry.
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell – $150,000 – The University of Massachusetts Lowell will develop a new system for monitoring the structural health of wind turbine blades, which will use low-cost microphones to detect sound changes caused by damage to a blade. This project will be field-tested at MassCEC’s Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown.  The project is also being supported by the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s WindSTAR research center and the University of Texas at Dallas.

The funding announcement follows the Baker-Polito Administration’s recent signing of comprehensive energy legislation which spurs the development of an emerging offshore wind industry to create jobs and represents the largest commitment by any state in the nation to offshore wind. The programs receiving awards build on Massachusetts’ ongoing efforts to lead interagency and community working groups, assess cost-effective offshore wind transmission routes and study marine wildlife in association with offshore wind permitting.

“Massachusetts is a national leader in innovation and technology because of our world class academic and research institutions,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “Through the collaboration by these institutions these projects will put the Commonwealth on a path to building a national model for offshore wind and reducing the impacts of climate change.”

“These offshore wind research projects will go a long way in reaffirming our Commonwealth’s commitment to providing renewable sources of clean energy and reducing our carbon footprint,” added State Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell). “This is a tremendous opportunity for our research institutions to play an active role in shaping Massachusetts’ energy future. I am excited to see what the University of Massachusetts Lowell can accomplish given its reputation as an innovative leader in the technical field.”