The US offshore wind industry gathered for the inaugural Ventus Awards gala in Washington, DC to celebrate the US offshore wind industry’s accomplishments, milestones, and the individuals, companies, and organisations leading the charge.

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Launched by the sector advocacy body the Business Network for Offshore Wind (BNOW) in collaboration with Recharge and hosted by BNOW CEO Liz Burdock and Recharge Editor-in-Chief Darius Snieckus, the gala celebration was attended by hundreds of industry associates from the developers and utilities to established suppliers and budding start-ups.

“The Ventus Awards gala is the first offshore wind industry celebration of the creativity, leadership, and innovation that has brought the industry to where it is today,” said Burdock. “I congratulate the ten winners of the inaugural Ventus Awards. Together, we are building a strong and resilient offshore wind industry to benefit our economy, workforce, and environment.”

The Ventus Awards honour the entire sweep of the burgeoning US offshore wind industry, recognising both its history and trailblazers, ranging from developers Dominion Energy and Orsted, through pioneers Bill Heronemus, founder of MIT’s Center for Ocean Energy Research, and Larry Viterna, CEO of floating wind outfit Nautica, to the new generation of leaders, with Next-Gen Leadership award going to Alana Duerr of Simply Blue. (See panel below for the full list of winners and nominees.)

“The winners of this year’s inaugural Ventus Awards – and indeed those on the shortlists – are embodiments of the pioneering spirit and purpose that is driving offshore wind forward as an engine of the energy transition in the US and globally,” said Snieckus.

“I am certain that in years to come they will inspire many others in this rapidly evolving industry to think and act with vision and ambition, to believe, in Ben Franklin’s words, that ‘energy and persistence conquer all things’.”

The Ventus Awards topped off a stellar day for the industry, which also saw the groundbreaking of the US’ first commercial scale wind farm, Vineyard Wind 1, in Massachusetts. The 800MW project jointly owned by Iberdrola’s Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners is now officially underway and set to begin feeding power into the grid in 2023. Vineyard Wind was nominated for three Ventus Awards.

The Build Back Better bill also passed the US House of Representatives today and is set to go before the Senate. The bill will include long-term clean energy tax credits for manufacturing and development, funding for transmission projects and planning, assistance to rebuild ports, and will advance offshore wind in the South Atlantic and US territories.

The US pipeline of offshore wind projects has bulged to some 35GW, according to the 2021 US Offshore Wind Market Report published by the Department of Energy, setting off a frenzy of competition recently among turbine suppliers.

The Biden administration is looking to the offshore wind sector to install as much as 30GW of new sea-based plant, chiefly in the waters off the eastern seabord, by 2030, as part its wider national decarbonisation plans.

And the winner is...

Advancement in Project Sitting & Development

A tie between Fugro, for its web-based platform Gaia Hub, and Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies for its programmed geo-referenced, visual wind turbine models for two Ørsted offshore wind farms into the full-mission ship simulators.
Finalists in the category were: Fugro, Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies, and Vineyard Wind.

Health, Safety & Environment Program of the Year

Ventolines for its Gemba app, a mobile observation app that reduces the time it takes to act on trends and health, safety, security, and environment concerns.
Finalists in the category were: Fugro, for its COVID-19 Plan for Vessel Fleet, which enabled safe continuation of services to offshore wind clients throughout the course of the pandemic, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy, for its full development and implementation of the Global Wind Organisation’s Basic Safety Training for offshore wind and blue economy industry.

Heronemus Award for Outstanding Achievement in Offshore Wind

In its inaugural year, the Network honoured William Heronemus (1920-2002), whom the award is named after, for his lasting contributions to the offshore wind industry. His family accepted the award on his behalf (view tribute video).

Innovation of the Year

RCAM Technologies, for its development of a low cost, modular concrete suction pile support structure and heavy lift vessel alternative as a solution to the scarcity of Jones Act compliant, heavy-lift vessels in the United States.
Finalists in the category were: Dominion Energy, for its Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, the Charybdis, and RWE Renewables, for its work to develop the United States’ first floating offshore wind research array using the University of Maine’s floating offshore wind technology.

Next-Gen Leadership

Alana Duerr, Simply Blue
Finalists in the category were: Christopher Dorman, Mainstream Renewable Power; Jamie Macdonald, Xodus Group; Sarah Kelley, Kiewit; and Sarah Schweitzer, Vineyard Wind.

Offshore Wind Leadership

Ørsted for its leadership in developing the US offshore wind industry, including operating Block Island wind farm, America’s first offshore wind farm, and construction of the two-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project.
Finalists in the category were: New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, for its work to position New York State as a leader in clean energy and as a hub for offshore wind growth, and Vineyard Wind, for its development of two offshore wind projects on the Outer Continental Shelf south of Massachusetts.

Supply Chain Advancement

Dominion Energy for its Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, the Charybdis, a significant investment and step in developing a domestic manufacturing supply chain.
Finalists in the category were: New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, for its work to reduce the overall level of cost to develop the offshore wind industry through investments, research & development, the development of tools, and creating business engagement opportunities and Vineyard Wind, for its extensive work to develop the local infrastructure and supply chains.

Talent Management Leadership

Jennifer Palestrant, Chief Deputy at the Virginia Department of Energy, for her advocacy for educational programmes and training for young professionals entering the offshore wind workforce.
Finalists in the category were: James Strum, owner of Strum Contracting, and Taylor Hopkinson, a multinational recruitment company for the renewable energies industry.

Viterna Award for Engineering Excellence
The Ventus Awards honoured Larry Viterna, after whom the award is named, for his development of the Viterna Method, which is the most widely used method to predict wind turbine performance and increase the efficiency of turbine output.