The goal of the Roadmap Project for Multi-State Cooperation on Offshore Wind is to understand the economic benefits from the development of offshore wind farms off the U.S. Northeast coastline, from Maine to Maryland. It commissioned BVG Associates to conduct this study of job creation, drawing on its experience of offshore wind industrialization in Europe.
The analysis used two market scenarios for the Northeast: a low scenario in which 4GW is installed by 2030 and a high scenario in which 8GW is installed by 2030. The study considered 17 subelements of the offshore wind supply chain and concluded whether the jobs would be baseline, where there are no compelling reasons why the work would not be undertaken in the U.S., or additional, where the demand for jobs is less certain (high, medium, or low probability). In both scenarios, about 45% of jobs are baseline. These jobs are related to the development of wind farms, the manufacture of substations, and the delivery of operations, maintenance, and service (OMS) activities.
In the low scenario, this translates to 160,000 baseline full-time equivalent (FTE) job years over the lifetime of the wind farms, with a peak of 8,300 FTE jobs in 2028. In the high scenario, there would be a total of 320,000 baseline FTE job years, with a peak of 16,700 FTE jobs in 2028.
If additional jobs with a medium or high probability of being performed in the U.S. are performed there, a total of 195,000 FTE US job years are created in the low scenario over the lifetime of the wind farms, with a peak of 12,600 FTE jobs in 2028, including baseline jobs. For the high scenario, there would be 500,000 FTE job years, with a peak of 36,300 FTE jobs in 2028.
The reason for greater numbers in the high scenario is that the levels of deployment make it more likely that additional jobs will be created. For example, U.S. production of turbine blades and towers, foundations, and array cables becomes a high probability. The annual market of 960MW in the late 2020s provides sufficient demand for investment in new manufacturing facilities to take place. This finding suggests significant economic development benefits from the U.S. having a robust pipeline of offshore wind projects.
These findings assume that investments leading to offshore wind jobs in the U.S. are made on purely commercial grounds. States and the federal government may offer a range of incentives for local investment because the economic benefits from job creation exceed the cost of the incentives. Were that to happen, then the outlook for U.S. jobs could be more favorable than the one presented here.
The study analyzed the specific occupations created in each of the 17 supply chain subelements using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Excluding the jobs created in general business services and equipment showed 75% of the FTE years created are spread between three major group occupational categories:
- Installation, repair, and maintenance
Broad group occupations were further analyzed. The main finding was a significant requirement for technician-level workers. These may be in:
- Production roles, particularly high-value manufacturing positions
- Installation and commissioning positions, vessel and offshore equipment operation, and commissioning and testing turbines, cables, and substations
- OMS roles, particularly turbine technicians
Although these technician roles are quite diverse, many initially will follow similar training paths. This means that skills development organizations in key states can establish their workforce training initiatives now in preparation of advancing local supply chains.