The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) and Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) are requesting information on opportunities to establish U.S. offshore wind workforce development hubs, called “Centers of Excellence,” as well as on opportunities and research needs related to the co-location of aquaculture and ocean renewable energy. This Request for Information (RFI) supports the White House goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. Recent reports have found offshore wind could need almost 50,000 direct jobs to achieve this deployment milestone.
WETO is pursuing the answers to critical questions related to the founding of a university-based Center of Excellence focused on the challenges associated with the recruitment, training, and placement of graduates in offshore wind industry positions. Additionally, WETO and WPTO are both seeking concepts and data needed for co-location and/or co-development of aquaculture with offshore wind and marine energy to help foster innovation and co-use of ocean space.
This RFI has two topics:
Topic 1: Offshore Wind Energy Centers of Excellence
DOE seeks to fund Centers of Excellence focused on offshore wind energy engineering, infrastructure, supply chain, transmission, and other pertinent issues required to support U.S. offshore wind energy. These university-based Centers would aim to develop regional and national strategies to support research, curriculum development, and fellowships aimed at increasing the potential of U.S. universities’ capacity to supply workers to offshore wind industry jobs. This is intended to accelerate and maximize the effectiveness, reliability, and sustainability of U.S. offshore wind deployment and operation.
The primary focus of this topic is on the role, capabilities, and needs of a university-based Center of Excellence dedicated to advancing offshore wind energy workforce development by solving challenges related to the academia-to-offshore wind industry pipeline (i.e. the recruitment of students and training of BAs, MAs, and PhDs in relevant fields to rapidly support both key industry roles and the ability of graduates to find placement within the field of offshore wind energy).
This section of the RFI is requesting information on:
- current and future offshore wind research needs
- challenges associated with the academia-to-offshore wind energy workforce pipeline
- partnership best practices
- economic sustainability strategies for institutions
- advantages to regional or topical structuring
- integration of equity in organizational structure.
The answers to these questions will inform the structure and capabilities of the potential university-based Centers of Excellence.
Topic 2: Ocean Renewable Energy and Aquaculture Synergies
DOE is also exploring options to support university-based research on applications of marine energy and offshore wind energy technologies to support sustainable, scalable aquaculture production. The aquaculture industry helps provide sustainable seafood, while both the offshore wind energy and marine energy industries help address U.S. decarbonization goals as well as create business opportunities in coastal communities. Each industry also requires the use of our ocean space. DOE is interested in the potential for positive interactions and co-location between these three industries, recognizing that synergies will differ between each ocean renewable energy technology.
DOE is also interested in understanding how this type of synergy could pioneer a new suite of community benefits in the offshore wind space. To explore these possibilities, DOE seeks information on economic feasibility, current and foreseen challenges and concerns, and necessary partnerships for success.
Marine energy is renewable power harnessed from ocean waves, tides, currents, as well as power harnessed from thermal, pressure and salinity gradients. It is a growing industry with the capability to fit its technology to an end-user need. DOE believes marine energy could be co-developed with the marine aquaculture industry to meet operational energy needs. To fill this need, DOE requests more information on aquaculture energy consumption and energy decision making, challenges and concerns in this space, and how university and industry research and development might advance synergies between marine energy and aquaculture.
Identifying key challenges and barriers associated with opportunities that emerge in the intersection of the offshore wind energy, marine energy, and aquaculture sectors has the potential to help each industry become more sustainable and equitable.