Two U.S. steel fabricators and a German pipe manufacturer have announced the formation of a joint venture to produce components for the 130-turbine Cape Wind farm in development off Nantucket Sound and other offshore wind farms emerging along the East Coast.

EEW Group
Monopile foundations at at EEW's Rostock, Germany facility, similar to the facility that will be built in Massachusetts to serve nascent offshore wind industry off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

“The announcement signals the beginning of a domestic supply chain that will create new jobs as well as a cleaner and more secure energy future,” says Jim Gordon, President of Cape Wind.

The companies include Mass Tank Corp., a steel tank manufacturing company in Middleborough, Mass.; Erndtebrucker Eisenwerk GmbH & Co. KG (EEW Group), an Erndtebruck, Germany-based supplier of structural steel for offshore wind installations and Gulf Island Fabrication of Houma, La.. Together they will make up East Coast Offshore Fabrication (ECO Fab), which will supply offshore wind installations on the Atlantic Coast, the May 16 press release notes.

Carl Horstmann, president of Mass Tank, says he anticipates the contract will be finalized by summer. Cape Wind’s entire cost for buying turbines, installation, servicing and engineering is estimated to be $2 billion with the joint venture receiving a portion of that work. Cape Wind would not comment on capital costs.

Last October Cape Wind signed a letter of intent to procure monopile foundations, transition pieces and secondary steel components including platforms, ladders and piping from Mass Tank, and EEW. By partnering with Gulf Island Fabrication, a fabricator of structures used in the oil and gas and marine industries, the new joint venture gains greater expertise and capacity to provide the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry with critical components from a domestic source, according to the companies

Timothy Mack, EEW director of business development for offshore wind in North America, says the joint venture plans to establish a flat-steel plate roll bending and assembly factory and will make a decision within two months on the plant’s location after evaluating a couple of sites in Massachusetts. The facility will require direct access to a deepwater seaport for receiving vessels that could transport 170-ft-long, 400-metric-ton monopiles, Mack says.

“It’s exciting, but we’re still waiting to hear about the impact of Cape Wind’s loan guarantee situation; Cape Wind has to have a financial package for us to move forward,” Mack says. “This is a first-time situation, but we’re hopeful the (Obama) administration will find a way.”