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Ørsted to Build Offshore Wind Steel Fabrication Plant in Maryland

Maryland’s First Offshore Wind Steel Fabrication Center to support wind farm construction
Steel fabrication plant will support Ørsted's wind farms in Maryland and New Jersey (Ørsted file photo)

Published Oct 15, 2021 6:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

Construction will begin this month on Maryland’s first offshore wind steel fabrication center with Denmark’s Ørsted agreeing to make a financial investment with Crystal Steel Fabricators in Federalsburg, Maryland. With this step, Ørsted has completed another commitment it made as part of agreement to develop Maryland’s offshore wind farm and which will also provide broader support in the installation of wind farms along the U.S. East Coast. 

Crystal Steel will begin construction activity on the new facilities this month with the goal of suppling steel components that will be used to construct wind turbine foundations for Ørsted’s Mid-Atlantic projects, including the Skipjack Wind program in Maryland and Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 in New Jersey. As a result of the partnership with Ørsted, Crystal Steel will increase its workforce by nearly a third, hiring up to 50 new local welders, fitters, CNC machine operators, painters, and truck drivers. 

Crystal Steel’s workers will pre-fabricate, or manufacture, large-scale, steel components that are fundamental elements of the turbine foundations. These components, which range in size from 9 to 16 tons each and are as tall as 45 feet, will be used in the construction of the wind turbine foundation boat landings, ladders, internal and exterior platforms, railings, grating, and other items.  Final assembly of these component parts will be completed locally for each project.  For the Skipjack Wind program, components fabricated at Crystal Steel will be constructed at Tradepoint Atlantic, where Ørsted has invested in Maryland’s first offshore wind staging center. 

“Maryland’s Eastern Shore is an outstanding location for expanding offshore wind’s domestic supply chain,” said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. “For decades, offshore wind steel fabrication jobs were located overseas, so we are particularly excited to bring these sustainable, good-paying jobs here to America as part of our buildout of a new 21st century American industry. As builder, owner, and operator of Skipjack Wind 1, we are deeply committed to investing in Maryland and the Eastern Shore for decades to come.”

Awarded by the Public Service Commission in 2017, Ørsted’s lease to develop Maryland’s offshore wind farm also included provisions for the creation of onshore facilities to act as staging for the wind farm during assembly as well as creation of support facilities for the operations. Ørsted also committed to an investment to develop the necessary steel fabrication operations for the wind farm in the state of Maryland. 

Crystal Steel Fabricators purchased the facility located on the Delmarva Peninsula in Federalsburg, Maryland in 2016. The 96,000 sq. foot site provides structural steel fabrication with railway access, allowing it to receive extra-long raw materials. Current operations will be expanded to meet the demands from the wind farm industry.

This agreement marks Ørsted’s second economic commitment to Maryland’s Eastern Shore announced this month. Ørsted will also construct Maryland’s first offshore wind operations and maintenance facility in west Ocean City, in support of the Skipjack Wind program. The facility will serve as the wind turbine maintenance technicians, engineers, operations personnel, and other key roles.

Skipjack Wind 1 is a 120-megawatt offshore wind project under development 20 miles off the Maryland-Delaware coast. Commercial operations are expected to begin in the second half of 2026.