Block Island Wind Farm
Block Island Wind Farm Photo Credit: Deep Water Wind

via Innovate Newport

Innovate Newport, in collaboration with the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) and the Business Network for Offshore Wind, hosted the state’s first-ever Rhode Island Offshore Wind Summit on July 18, 2019. The event was sponsored by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. This full-day summit convened leaders from around the world and across public and private sectors including public officials, offshore wind developers, and Tier 1 suppliers. Nearly 200 people attended the event.

Peter Rothstein, president of NECEC began the summit with remarks on the state of wind energy in the Northeast and the need to continue developing infrastructure that provides all the tools necessary to grow this sector. “We’re going to have to innovate in order to create. Rhode Island is a small state, but an important state, in wind energy development.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo spoke to the importance of wind energy for the state’s growing economy. “Yes, we need good jobs. Yes, we need commerce. Yes, we need capitalism. But let’s go for jobs of the future, high-growth jobs that are sustainable for our environment,” she continued. Raimondo said that Rhode Island’s 12 colleges and universities are incubators for new ideas and innovation, which is especially important in combating climate change. “We can’t race fast enough toward a fully renewable future,” she said.

President of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind, David Hang, highlighted the importance of Rhode Island in wind energy development. “This state unquestionably started offshore wind energy [in the US],” he said. “This is a great state to do business in.”

“For more than a decade, offshore wind struggled in the US – stopping and starting – then in 2016 Rhode Island turned on the power of our nation’s first offshore wind project. And the US Offshore Wind Industry has been powering forward at what seems like lightspeed ever since. Thanks to Rhode Island’s leadership, the US now has a market that is over 20GWs in less than three years” said Liz Burdock, President and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind.

Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor said the wind energy sector played an important role in reducing the state’s unemployment rate. “Rhode Island decreased its unemployment more than any other state,” he said. “In 2012 the state’s unemployment rate was at a worrisome 12.2% and it is currently at 3.3%. We are setting the pace when it comes to wind energy development.”

The summit was interspersed with networking breaks, panel discussions, and pitch sessions, allowing companies and startups of all sizes to connect with potential suppliers and clients. Representatives from a range of companies attended including Equinor, GE Renewables Energy, MHI Vestas, Burns & McDonnell, Bristol Marine, Atlantic Wind Transfer, and Vineyard Wind.

The event concluded with closing remarks from Secretary Pryor and a networking reception hosted by INSPIRE Environmental, a global Blue Tech firm headquartered on the second floor of Innovate Newport.

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