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Experts See Common Ground Between Offshore Oil And Wind Industries

Wind developers tap the expertise of the oil industry to build offshore platforms.

A view of the Middelgruden offshore wind farm off the coast of Denmark.

As the Trump Administration continues its push for expanded oil drilling in coastal waters, experts say there is common ground between offshore development of fossil fuels and wind energy.

Deepwater Wind built the nation’s first offshore wind farm in the Northeast. The company’s president, Chris van Beek, says they tapped former oil and gas workers to figure out how to build offshore platforms.

“Making use of people who know what is required to do that is, I would say, a more important element than the wind technology,” van Beek says.

“The same types of science and engineering apply to the wind industry as they do to the oil and gas,” says Sean McDonald, V.P. of global offshore engineering firm Cathie Associates.

“You need to do preliminary geophysical surveys to understand the layers beneath the seabed,” he says, “you need to do geotechnical investigations to ascertain the strength of the seabed soils.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management expects to see more offshore wind projects in the years ahead. It says the millions of dollars brought in from the government’s last two offshore lease sales shows that. But what remains to be seen is how – or whether – the push for more offshore oil will affect wind’s prospects. The two are still competing forms of energy, after all.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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