Offshore Wind Taking Cleveland Back to the Future
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
Once upon a time, Cleveland was the 5th largest city in the U.S. and ranked 1st in transportation equipment; 2nd in machinery; 3rd in iron-and-steel making; 4th in metal products; and 5th in electrical machinery. Not surprisingly, an entrepreneur named John D. Rockefeller made his fortune here and became the richest man in history. Our present day world leaders, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Clinic, and The Cleveland Foundation share a 100+ year heritage with those great innovators, visionaries, and titans of industry.
Today, we see a city that is becoming one of the most livable cities in America as well as developing sustainable practices that attract young and old residents alike. In fact, in 2016, Forbes magazine named Cleveland the “Hottest City in America.” However, Cleveland is now 51st in population among U.S. cities, and many of the industries from the glory days are shadows of themselves, have closed, or moved away. So, how does the Hottest City in America attract the best and brightest millennials as well as leverage its legacy of industrialization, entrepreneurship, and innovation to generate jobs of the future?
Part of the answer lies in health care and medical technology, while another finds it roots in information technologies. However, neither of these industries are likely to leverage our strong manufacturing or industrialization capabilities. No matter how one looks at Cleveland and the surrounding region, we know how to make things better than almost anyone in the world, and that is where we can make the most of our future.
One way to tap this inherent strength is through the abundant wind resource right off our shores of Lake Erie. Not only can this resource supply an inexhaustible source of clean energy, the fundamental nature of this industry depends on engineering, manufacturing, fabrication, and maritime activities. Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) has taken the lead to bring this industry home and make Cleveland a national center. Project Icebreaker, a demonstration project consisting of 6 Vestas 3.45 MW turbines 8-10 miles offshore of the Port of Cleveland, is poised for construction in 2019.
Icebreaker will generate 500 jobs during construction and add $168 million to the local economy. More importantly, every business and worker on the project will gain valuable experience that will allow them to work anywhere in the U.S. on offshore projects as this industry grows.
Anchoring these giant turbines to the lakebed is the Mono Bucket, which consists of an 18 meter suction bucket with a 4.5 meter shaft emerging from the lid. This innovative technology eliminates the typical pile driving associated with offshore foundations through of a simple suction technique that embeds it into the soil. More to the point, this 600 ton structure will be manufactured in the region with two Ohio companies in the running.
This “Cleveland Blue Sky” is already a reality in Europe; home to $16 billion per year in offshore wind investment and 95,000 jobs. Closer to our shores, tiny Rhode Island built the first U.S. project in November 2016 and an almost irrational exuberance exists all along the East Coast. Dozens of European Fortune 200 companies are clamoring for access into these yet undeveloped markets. Talk of jobs and manufacturing are a daily occurrence and states are requiring developers to invest in “manufacturing” facilities. The real message here is that offshore wind has now come to the United States and it is up to Cleveland to take this opportunity while it exists.
In order to bring this vision to reality, LEEDCo has mobilized a world class team of experts with decades of experience in offshore wind, freshwater ice, aquatics, avian and bat, water quality, project finance, engineering, fabrication, and permitting. Icebreaker, as the demonstration project is called, was designed from the beginning to be small enough to have no significant impact on the environment and large enough to gain valuable technical insight. Over the first 5 years of operation, this “science lab” will collect data related to water quality, aquatic species, birds, bats, ice, wind resource, engineering and manufacturing. During its 25 year projected lifetime, Icebreaker will provide data from out in the lake that will benefit all stakeholders and lead to sustained economic growth into the future.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
The development of public, open-access middle mile infrastructure can expand internet networks closer to unserved and underserved communities while offering equal opportunity for ISPs to link cost effectively to last mile infrastructure. This strategy would connect more Americans to high-speed internet while also driving down prices by increasing competition among local ISPs.
In addition to potentially helping narrow the digital divide, middle mile infrastructure would also provide backup options for networks if one connection pathway fails, and it would help support regional economic development by connecting businesses.
One of the most visceral manifestations of the combined problems of urbanization and climate change are the enormous wildfires that engulf areas of the American West. Fire behavior itself is now changing. Over 120 years of well-intentioned fire suppression have created huge reserves of fuel which, when combined with warmer temperatures and drought-dried landscapes, create unstoppable fires that spread with extreme speed, jump fire-breaks, level entire towns, take lives and destroy hundreds of thousands of acres, even in landscapes that are conditioned to employ fire as part of their reproductive cycle.
ARISE-US recently held a very successful symposium, “Wildfire Risk Reduction – Connecting the Dots” for wildfire stakeholders – insurers, US Forest Service, engineers, fire awareness NGOs and others – to discuss the issues and their possible solutions. This article sets out some of the major points to emerge.
Whether deep freezes in Texas, wildfires in California, hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, or any other calamity, our innovations today will build the reliable, resilient, equitable, and prosperous grid tomorrow. Innovation, in short, combines the dream of what’s possible with the pragmatism of what’s practical. That’s the big-idea, hard-reality approach that helped transform Texas into the world’s energy powerhouse — from oil and gas to zero-emissions wind, sun, and, soon, geothermal.
It’s time to make the production and consumption of energy faster, smarter, cleaner, more resilient, and more efficient. Business leaders, political leaders, the energy sector, and savvy citizens have the power to put investment and practices in place that support a robust energy innovation ecosystem. So, saddle up.