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Breakbulk April 2017

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Page 6 of 31 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 7 COVER STORY A GALE OF change is blowing in the wind energy industry, a growing market that's a project cargo mainstay. When multipurpose vessels began carrying windmill blades and turbines in large numbers about 15 years ago, they were something of a curiosity. Now the industry is well-established globally, a development with positive and negative implications for breakbulk and project carriers. The industry's growth has created opportunities for breakbulk carriers. Wind fa r ms tend to be located in remote areas far from manufacturing sites. But as the industry has expanded, manufacturers have increased their near-sourcing of components, a trend analysts have said will eventually affect growth in demand for long-distance transportation. Ocea n t ra n spor t at ion of w i nd energy cargo remains healthy, however, and is providing a good source of rev- enue in an otherwise lackluster market for project carriers and ports. "Last year was our best year for wind energy cargo," said John LaRue, executive director of the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, which annually is among the top US ports for wind energy cargo. Last year, Corpus Christi handled 68 ships carrying a total of 2,875 wind turbine components, including 1,936 turbine blades (a 25 percent increase from 2015), 817 tower sections, and 122 nacelles or hubs. "The first two months of this year have been pretty good, and the inhdustry people we deal with are positive for the rest of 2017," LaRue said. Corpus Christi has a big regional market dominated by Texas, the top US state for wind energy installations, with more than three times the genera- ting capacity of any other state. During recent years, however, Corpus Christi has handled some wind energy compo-nents for destinations as far away as Oregon. Ports and railroads have honed their skills for handling often-delicate shipments of wind turbines and blades. These cargoes require proper ship stowage, open space for storage of blades at ports, and railcars and tracks that provide an adequate turning radius, or high and wide clearances for trucks. Breakbulk and project carriers with ships with long holds or open decks are emphasizing their ability to carry blades that can be nearly 60 meters long for 0 25,000 50,000 75,000 100,000 125,000 150,000 175,000 Rest of World Italy Brazil Canada France UK Spain India Germany US China CUMULATIVE WIND ENERGY INSTALLATIONS THROUGH 2016 Source: GWEC TOP 10 84% By Joseph Bonney

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