A New Boom in Offshore Energy Jobs? Here’s How It Might Happen

renewable energy

Windmill blades at the Associated Terminals in Chalmette. Photo by David Grunfeld

A breakthrough in offshore energy production has the potential to ignite an explosive economic revival across south Louisiana, sending tens of thousands of idled oil and gas workers back into high-paying jobs.

But it has nothing to do with oil and gas.

It’s all about wind. We just have to get our oil-soaked political leaders on board, or out of the way.

That’s the exciting news from a recent essay by Megan Milliken Biven, a New Orleanian who should know. While working at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management which oversees the offshore oil and gas industry, Biven was assigned to a group studying how to develop an offshore energy market.

That project was based on studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that came to this startling conclusion: Louisiana and other Gulf states have the potential to provide as much as half the nation’s entire electricity consumption on an annual basis (based on 2017 usage).

For someone who loves her native land (she signs her essays “I’m a New Orleanian, a Louisianian and an American”) Biven was excited about what that could mean for her troubled state and planet: All those laid off fossil fuel industry workers could be put back to work helping the world reduce the cause of accelerating sea level rise — carbon emissions — that will eventually swallow the southern third of the state.

“Louisiana’s web of oil and gas supply chains, vessels, canals, ports and infrastructure can and should support a sustaining offshore wind program, not just for the Gulf Coast, but the nation’s,” she writes. “Louisiana’s trade schools, engineers and welders, fabrication yards and shipyards are uniquely poised to take advantage of this historic moment. Louisiana can and should become the center of offshore wind expertise and manufacturing.”

In fact, the opening paragraph of her essay showed Louisiana was already exporting those skills: “Twenty-eight miles north of the German island of Borkum, a New Orleans-designed, Houma-built liftboat is performing operation and maintenance work on Germany’s first offshore wind farm — Alpha Ventus Offshore Wind Park.”

So why not here?

Biven says it will require three basic steps.

Read the rest of the article at The Times-Picayune.