The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has awarded $50,000 to researchers at UMass Dartmouth to develop a multi-disciplinary framework for offshore wind research, focusing on increasing innovation and reducing costs and impacts.

UMass Dartmouth researchers (including the School for Marine Science & TechnologyCharlton College of Business, and Public Policy Center) will collaborate with five area academic and research institutions (Northeastern University, Tufts University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) to examine risks, finances, and regulations associated with the industry.

“This partnership is forming at a critical stage in the development of the offshore wind industry in New England, and will provide valuable expertise to support technology innovation and improve our understanding of impacts in the marine environment,” said Steven Lohrenz, Dean of UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology.

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Additionally, the research team will partner with Bristol Community College and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on an effort to identify the workforce requirements associated with the development and construction of offshore wind projects, examining the number of jobs by trade, the health and safety training requirements for offshore wind jobs, and the economic benefits to the Commonwealth these jobs would provide. This effort will help to establish training and health and safety programs to maximize local employment and ensure worker safety.

Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker signed a comprehensive energy bill that will have important implications for offshore energy development off of our coast. The bill’s offshore wind component requires utilities to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 MW of the turbine-fueled power source, between 2017 and 2027. UMass Dartmouth will also play a role in understanding the impacts on the marine environment.

Author: Adrienne N. Wartts