Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

There is more than a ship yard at Avondale.

At a time when Avondale Global Gateway’s $445 million price tag is under scrutiny, a wind turbine technology company located at the site is partnering with Shell on a $10 million initiative to create a wind power research and technology hub at the former Jefferson Parish shipyard. Thanks to a $10 million investment from the London petrochemical giant, the Shell Gulf Wind Technology Accelerator should help Gulf Wind Technology create 30 new jobs with an average annual salary of $83,000, according to Louisiana Economic Development. The project is estimated to create 54 indirect jobs. Officials hope the partnership will create a destination for offshore wind development, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, amid a push for cleaner energy driven by Louisiana’s climate action plan.

The training is not all as they hope to build turbines that will withstand the wind on the Gulf, hurricanes for instance.

In addition to creating a workforce training program, Gulf Wind Technology plans on building turbines that can handle the Gulf of Mexico’s harsh conditions. It hopes to show off its first Gulf turbine by 2024. Gulf Wind Technology already has a 30,000-square-foot technology facility at Avondale, along with a laboratory and access to more than 1.5 million square feet of manufacturing and fabrication space. The company will earn a $375,000 performance-based grant from LED for the project, and it will take advantage of Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption Program incentives. “Seasonal hurricane conditions and moderate average wind speeds create a situation that requires a novel approach to the application of technology and the framework in which it is both developed and demonstrated,” Gulf Wind Technology CEO James Martin said in a statement. “The Shell Gulf Wind Technology Accelerator program has been specifically created to address and fulfill this need and enable next steps for the region and for the industry.”

The price of the shipyard is being questioned by all but the buyer.

Looming over any Avondale Global Gateway announcement is the Port of South Louisiana’s $445 million attempt to buy the former shipyard from T. Parker Host, the Virginia company that scooped up Avondale in 2018 for $60 million. The port’s hefty purchase valuation has drawn concerns from key state officials, including Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has withheld support for the transaction until he gets more answers. The sale still has to be approved by the State Bond Commission. Edwards on Monday lauded Shell and Gulf Wind Technology for “seizing the opportunity that the new energy economy represents for Louisiana.” Officials from the Port of South Louisiana and T. Parker Host also touted the deal. “Today’s announcement from Gulf Wind Technology and Shell is confirmation that Avondale is open for business and attracting commerce and investment from the world’s most recognizable organizations,” Port of South Louisiana CEO Paul Matthews said in a statement.

The price figures in the success of the tenants located on the site.

The price tag for the port’s purchase appears to be based, at least in part, on optimistic revenue projections for the Avondale site’s tenants. Port officials deferred questions about Gulf Wind Technology’s Avondale lease to T. Parker Host, which declined to divulge that information while touting $150 million in upgrades to the site. Officials from Gulf Wind Technology company could not be reached Monday for further comment. “When we took the risk of transforming Avondale shipyards, this is exactly the type of progress and partnership we envisioned,” T. Parker Host President and CEO Adam Anderson said in a statement. “With hundreds of acres of laydown space for equipment like offshore wind blades, our site is the ideal location for this type of groundbreaking investment.”

Oil companies seem to be backing off from the “green”pledges but Shell continues with this project.

Shell’s investment comes when it is trying to move away from fossil fuels toward cleaner energy production, though the company began operating a new Gulf of Mexico deepwater platform in February. “Shell has been operating in the Gulf of Mexico for over six decades and has a long history of developing energy projects, including advancing and proving deep-water technologies,” Shell Vice President Amanda Dasch said in a statement. “We see opportunities to do the same for offshore wind in this region and are proud to support Louisiana’s (5 gigawatts) offshore wind target by 2035.” Adding Shell to the mix brings “a lot of weight” to the Gulf’s budding wind power sector, said Jenny Netherton, Louisiana program manager for the Southeastern Wind Coalition. She said other companies could join in following this investment. “Shell sees the writing on the wall that renewables are the future as well,” Netherton said. “They would be passing up opportunities by not investing in it.”

Those doing “green hydrogen” will be looking for wind power.

GNO Inc., which is leading a “green” hydrogen initiative that will rely on building out wind power, celebrated the partnership as a milestone for offshore wind development in Louisiana. “Combining the scale of Shell with the expertise of Gulf Wind Technology, the Accelerator will help Greater New Orleans develop the assets and workforce to power the energy future of the Gulf South, and the country,” GNO Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht said in a statement. Jerry Bologna, president and CEO of JEDCO, said the development positions Jefferson Parish as a “global player in offshore wind power.” “This investment has the potential to change the landscape of our economy and put Jefferson Parish on the map in new and exciting ways,” Bologna said in a statement.

Still bullish on oil this is a good initiative for Shell and maybe it will lead to more oil companies doing this sort of investment.

Shell and Gulf Wind work together
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