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Offshore wind can meet the sails of small businesses

The Jay Cashman, Inc. crew uses a clamshell dredge to remove sediment from the bottom of the North Dock at the State Pier Complex in New London, Tuesday, October 18, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy Photo Reprint

Offshore wind power is the reason for the tumultuous and ongoing transformation of New London’s State Pier, potentially offering endless opportunities for SMEs to secure a niche in the supply chain that nourishes the industry.

“It’s more than just installing a few turbines,” says Carol Oldham, Northeast Director of the Offshore Wind Business Network.

The Oldham organization, a nonprofit dedicated to building offshore wind supply chains, held a three-day workshop on the subject at the Hilton Mystic Hotel in December. Sponsored by Revolution Wind, the Ørsted-Eversource partnership behind the offshore wind projects staged at State Pier, and the state’s Bureau of Economic and Community Development, the workshop called “Foundation 2 Blade” will include business owners, educators, and more. , and policy makers – information about the industry overview and how to become part of it.

The Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region (Sector) and AdvanceCT hosted the workshop.

“It’s a big misconception that the only job is in the construction phase, and there’s a lot more in the construction phase,” says Oldham. “A lot of people have come to me and said ‘I didn’t know’. 50% of his spending in the UK was on operations and maintenance, keeping things going over the next 20 years. will be.”

According to the Offshore Wind Business Network, the industry includes steel manufacturing, piling and boring, carpentry, HVAC, electrical engineering, marine engineering, marine transportation, health and safety services, information technology, environmental research, legal and financial services, Market research, project management.

Tom Krivickas, a workshop participant and president of South Windsor fiberglass manufacturer CT Composites, said: “I was surprised that there was a huge opportunity in our area. Most people[at the workshop]were surprised by that.”

Krivickas was familiar with the offshore wind industry even before attending the workshop and knew that certain offshore wind components, including wind turbine blades, are made of composite materials like the ones his company works with. said i knew. When the country’s first commercial offshore wind project, Block Island Wind Farm, was launched in 2016, he recognized potential opportunities for repair and maintenance work.

“We’re a little small,” he said of the 15-person company. “We’re not going to manufacture those blades, but they do get damaged. Many people don’t want to keep them.”

He said he could envision expanding the company if he could get enough jobs in the offshore wind industry.

Another workshop participant, Ron Delfini, is president of CThru Metals. CThru Metals is a North He Branford company that provides what it calls “unique” products to the aerospace, automotive, filtration and renewable energy industries.

“We take the metal foil and spread it out,” says Delfini. “It looks like a big roll of foil. You feed it into a machine, pierce it, stretch it, and it becomes almost cloth, paper-thin, and perforated.”

He said a potential offshore wind application for the product is in protecting turbine blades from lightning strikes. Blades made of lightweight composites need a way to disperse the energy of an attack. One method is to insert CThru’s metal foil inside the blade to absorb the energy and direct it safely to the ground.

“We want to be involved in offshore wind,” said Defini, who employs 15 people in a company that spun off from another company two years ago. “There are only three manufacturers in the world that make blades, so for us, they are both our target market and our subcontractors.”

He said offshore wind could be a “multi-million dollar opportunity” for CThru Metals, adding that it is “ready to add capacity.”

After attending the workshop, Aaron Smith, who owns Mystic-based Architectural Metals, a professional welding service and manufacturer, said offshore wind offers opportunities for secondary steel manufacturing.

With his two-person job, Smith could build the steps, railings, ladders, and more for offshore wind turbine towers, and perhaps even the small boats needed to travel between the towers and shore. said.

“It’s a bit of a digression from what I’m doing now,” he said. “I didn’t know there were so many opportunities. We have to change our tactics.”

Workshop attendee Jason Dycus, operations manager for McCarthy Concrete in South Windsor, said his company could provide concrete for the industry’s onshore substation construction.

“This is a huge opportunity for everyone,” he said. “Over the next 20 years, there will be a lot of jobs for everyone.

McCarthy Concrete, which is not a union, wants to “get the same opportunities as everyone else” to secure jobs in the industry, Dycus said.

The Mystic workshop was also attended by David Schill, Vice President of Mohawk Northeast, a marine construction company planning to build a marine terminal and metalworking facility along the River Thames in New London. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Naval Maritime Consortium, a network of companies involved in the highly technological areas of the maritime industry, he has tracked the offshore wind industry for many years.

Schill said Mohawk Northeast wants to play a “supporting role” in the industry.

“What I have learned is that if states can coordinate their efforts properly, there are many opportunities,” he said. “There are multiple organizations looking at offshore wind, and those organizations need to come together. I have.”

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