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Offshore wind market a potential for Jones Act market but scope of opportunity remains unclear

The vessel needs of proposed wind projects in US waters present a potential new trade for the Jones Act sector, an academic says.

But the scope of the opportunity remains unclear as it is still a nascent market, says State University of New York Maritime College (SUNY Maritime) senior lecturer Ira Breskin.

While Jones Act tugs, crew boats, service vessels and flotels will be needed as the market develops, a paucity of Jones Act windfarm installation vessels will likely lead foreign-flag ships to garner waivers from the cabotage law to carry out that work.

But Breskin told the recent TradeWinds Jones Act Shipping Forum that potential domestic construction of wind platforms and turbines could bolster the need to turn to US-built vessels for that work.

“You might need a secondary market for these vessels because most of the construction and maintenance is done seasonally,” he added.

Gulf Island Fabricators is already building windfarm foundations for the first US offshore windfarm, and GE and Alstom have proposed building turbines on US shores.

“There’s lots of opportunity out there, though it is clearly uncertain,” Breskin said.