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Meeting with US offshore industry pioneers Hamburg business delegation visits the American East Coast

Cape Cod – a place of great historical significance. As of 2014, “Cape Wind” will be the first offshore wind farm in US waters. In the context of a business delegation headed by Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation, Jan Rispens, managing director of Renewable Energy Hamburg, met the project’s participants and further representatives of the local renewable energy sector. Aside from New Bedford, the delegation also visited Boston and Montreal in Canada.

Jan Rispens: “The trip was very interesting. I found that both the US East Coast and Canada represent attractive markets for products manufactured by our cluster. We also realised that the US has come up with interesting demand-side management solutions that could be relevant for Europe. The technology start-up scene in Boston is very impressive. Montreal offers substantial business opportunities in the field of wind energy - hydroelectric power combinations. The opportunities might be of a similar nature in the linking of Norwegian hydroelectric power to German and European energy supply. Canada has substantial experience with high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transport systems that will increasingly be used in Germany. Our delegation did not only come back with a lot of important information and new contacts but also with plenty of inspiration.”

New Bedford – cradle of the US offshore industry

The delegation discussed relevant issues with offshore market players and companies in New Bedford (Massachusetts). The former whaling harbour is being turned into the base harbour of the Cape Wind offshore wind farm which will produce an output of 420 MW. The delegation from Cuxhaven headed by Mayor Dr Ulrich Getsch showed particular interest in New Bedford, one of their twin cities. Cape Wind managing director Jim Gordon emphasised the role model function German offshore wind farms are playing for his project. The wind turbines are manufactured by Siemens. The transformer station was planned by Hamburg’s IMS engineering office. The State of Massachusetts is contracting out further areas for a total of 4 GW offshore wind farms. With limited natural gas transport capacities on the American East Coast, Jim Gordon does not consider cheap US natural gas to be a competitive factor.

Boston, the IT capital

The MIT and the New Bedford Whaling Museum were on the varied programme organised by Hamburg’s ambassador Bodo Liesenfeld. The delegates were given the opportunity to speak to Professor Robert Armstrong, head of the MIT Energy Initiative. They also visited EnergNOC, a company active in the demand-side management field. The company with headquarters in Boston looks after over 13,000 commercial customers and buildings with a load portfolio in excess of 24,000 MW. Electricity purchases are being reduced by 7,000 MW, resulting in a highly attractive market that significantly reduces the need for new power plant capacities.

Montreal – high-voltage technology and hydroelectric power

The delegation’s programme in Montreal, Canada focused on wind energy, grid technology and electromobility. The Hamburg delegation, which was received by the Montreal branch of the turbine manufacturer Repower, learned that Canada, especially the province of Quebec, is an attractive turbine market. At the research centre run by the energy supplier Hydro Quebec, the visitors inspected the high-voltage test laboratory where the company’s high-voltage technology is subjected to various examinations. Hydro Quebec has extensive experience in the field of 750 kV AC transmission grids and high-voltage DC transmission systems (HVDC) which transport the output generated by large hydroelectric plants in northern Quebec to the conurbations in the south, in some cases across more than 1,000 km.