1,700 MW of Offshore Wind Capacity Approved for Construction
- July 25, 2019
Last Thursday, 7/18, New York’s Governor Cuomo announced two new offshore wind deals totaling 1,700 MW of renewable energy capacity, the largest renewables procurement in the country’s history. This is part of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the country’s most ambitious climate target and a state-level version of the Green New Deal in Congress. “The law sets a target of 70% of the state’s electricity to be powered by renewables by 2030 and to be 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. Additionally, it calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut 85% by 2050” (The Hill).
The Sunrise Wind project will be built by Denmark’s Ørsted and Eversource Energy and will provide 880 MW of energy to the densely populated Long Island area. It will be built 30 miles east of Long Island’s Montauk Point. Ørsted and Eversource have committed to investing $10 million to create a National Workforce Training Center in partnership with Suffolk County Community College. They also plan to construct a new Operation and Maintenance hub in Port Jefferson, NY, including a dockage for a 250-foot vessel, warehouse and an office area in the vicinity. Construction and operation of the O&M Hub is expected to create over 100 new fulltime jobs in the state.
The Empire Wind project, built by Norway’s Equinor will deliver 816 MW of electricity to New York City. It will be made up of 60-80 wind turbines located southeast of Long Island. Equinor, the manufacturer for the Empire Wind project, will also invest over $60 million in port upgrades in New York in order to provide support for future offshore wind projects. This will assist New York in strengthening its position as the U.S. hub for offshore wind. Equinor will also commit $4.5 million to community benefits and workforce development. Both the Sunrise Wind and Empire Wind projects’ commitments will help to support New York’s National Offshore Wind Training Institute and Community and Workforce Benefits Fund.
“With this agreement, New York will lead the way in developing the largest source of offshore wind power in the nation,” said Cuomo. This is also the first step in his commitment to developing 9,000 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035. The projects are expected to create enough energy to power more than 1 million homes and provide 1,600 new jobs and $3.2 billion in economic activity (The Hill). Both projects are expected to commence in 2024.
The offshore wind industry in the U.S. is still in its early stages of development even though New York’s plans are aggressive. The first offshore wind farm was operational in late 2016, comprising of 5 turbines generating 30 MW off Block Island. Europe, on the other hand, has 18,499 MW of installed offshore wind capacity. Prices in the U.S. have dropped dramatically over the past few years; however, this option remains about a third more expensive than options like nuclear power. The NYISO grid also needs to make updates to its transmission system to support the substantial wind power additions to the state’s electricity mix. This leaves the future New York City Zone J and Long Island Zone K energy prices at an unknown. How much will offshore wind cost in the next coming years? Will it decrease enough to be economical against nuclear power and natural gas?
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