New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the winners of the largest offshore wind developments so far in the USA, totalling 1.7 GW, $3.2 billion in economic activity and over 1600 jobs. This is expected to deliver power to one million homes near the East Coast. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) selected the two projects as the best from the applications they received.
The two winning wind generation schemes were Sunrise Wind, a 50/50 joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource, with 110 turbines delivering 880 MW; and Empire Wind, an 816 MW project which will have 60-80 turbines. Both projects are situated in the Atlantic Ocean. This is a significant step forward in scale and reach for the US offshore wind industry. Renewable energy is part of Governor Cuomo’s ambitious plan to ensure New York has a carbon-free electricity system by 2040, which will include 9GW of offshore wind.
Governor Cuomo said, “The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires that we achieve a cleaner, greener, carbon neutral economy. The law requires that 70 percent of our electricity come from renewables by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. By 2050, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an overall 85 percent. With a new climate council established that will offset the remainder to make New York a 100 percent carbon neutral economy.”
NY State Invests in Infrastructure
To ensure that there is sufficient infrastructure and backup for these two large projects, the state is going to invest $287 million to construct manufacturing service and port facilities right at Port Jefferson, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Capitol Region. Governor Cuomo continued, “These projects will help make New York the hub for this growing, exciting, necessary future industry. And in addition, New York will provide $20 million to develop a state-of-the-art wind training program for the most highly trained workers of tomorrow. Our own State University of New York, our SUNY system will lead the nation in this new job training opportunity.”
The port upgrades will start in 2020 together with onshore building to prepare for the offshore installation starting in late 2022 and first power delivery in 2024.
Former Vice-President of the USA, Al Gore (above, left, with Gov. Cuomo) was present at the event and said, about the way that renewables were becoming much cheaper than fossil fuels, “The global investments in renewable energy has exceeded the investments in fossil fuels, but now something's different. Not only are the vast majority of new projects solar and wind, now what we're seeing is existing facilities being shut down long before their predicted useful lifetimes have expired because it's just so much cheaper to just shut them down and replace them with wind and solar.”
Al Gore explained, “Florida Power and Light just announced they are closing two of their natural gas electricity generating plants and replacing them with a solar farm and a huge battery four times larger than the biggest battery today. Pacific Gas and Electric in California just announced they are shutting down a massive natural gas generating plant with two thirds of its useful lifetime remaining because it's just so much cheaper now to use the sun and the wind. So we've got this going for us. And we've got the people saying we demand this and the rising generation is demanding a better future and as well they should. And we've got to respond by giving them a better future.”
The Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind Projects
Pål Eitrheim, executive vice president for Equinor New Energy Solutions, said, “We are proud to have been awarded this major wind project. Empire Wind represents a breakthrough for Equinor’s global offshore wind ambitions and is an important step in our development as a broad energy company. We have demonstrated that we can be successful in fierce competition, with our first wind project outside of Europe. The project will be the biggest wind farm under contract in our portfolio so far. We are looking forward to developing Empire Wind together with local authorities, local communities and the U.S. industry,”
Thomas Brostrøm, CEO of Ørsted US Offshore Wind and President of Ørsted North America, said,
“Sunrise Wind will contribute significantly to achieving governor Cuomo’s bold and ambitious goal for New York’s transition to renewable energy by supplying more than half a million New York homes with wind power. The offshore wind industry offers great opportunities for long-term industrial development, and Sunrise Wind will bring skilled jobs to the state during construction and throughout its operational lifetime.”
Sunrise Wind will be located 30 miles east of Montauk Point, Long Island, adjacent to Ørsted’s South Fork and Revolution Wind projects. Empire Wind is in an area south of Long Island.
Part of this development will be to train the necessary workforce, and ensure that benefits go to the communities these power schemes will serve: the state will establish a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development, a new $20 million Offshore Wind Training Institute (OWTI) and a $3 million Community and Workforce Benefits Fund (CWB Fund) to ensure there are sufficient skilled, trained local personnel for this industry. These investments will particularly benefit New York's low-income and environmental justice communities, as the region transitions to clean power.
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By Julian Jackson – writer on technology, arts, blockchain and cryptocurrencies