Marine contractors seek jobs in U.S. offshore wind supply chain

Marine contractors and equipment suppliers are seeking a share of the nascent U.S. offshore wind energy industry, executives said.

Kokosing Construction Co., a closely held construction management company, is bidding to lay undersea cables to transmit power from several planned wind farms off the Atlantic coast, Bill Wenger, estimating and marketing manager at its Durocher Marine unit, said today.

There are no wind farms in U.S. waters, and this lack of infrastructure is creating a market for contractors, shipbuilders, oil-rig installers and other companies with experience building large structures at sea.

“We are optimistic about this industry and see it as a big potential business for us,” Wenger said in an interview today at the American Wind Energy Association’s Offshore Windpower Conference in Baltimore.

A supply chain to service offshore wind development will emerge once the first sea-based energy projects begin construction, the Washington-based trade group said today on its website.

“When these actually start to get constructed, that’s when this supply chain will start to move,” Scott Keating, general manager for North America at Vestas Offshore AS, a unit of the Randers, Denmark-based turbine company Vestas Wind Systems A/S, said in AWEA’s statement.

Offshore wind developers say oil and gas companies have needed expertise in designing and installing heavy equipment in harsh, marine environments.

“We learned from oil and gas on standards, construction and transport techniques,” Ian Mould, a business manager with Alstom SA, said during a panel at the conference. The French power-equipment company’s Alstom Grid unit built electrical substations for Germany’s first offshore wind farm, Alpha Ventus, and others in Europe.