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Biggest-Ever Renewables Procurement Makes New York a U.S. ‘Epicentre’ for Offshore Wind

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Offshore wind developers Ørsted and Equinor and industrial workers along the eastern United States coast were the biggest winners last week as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced contracts for 1.7 gigawatts of offshore wind while signing his state’s Green New Deal into law.

In what New York is calling “the largest U.S. renewables procurement in history,” Ørsted and Massachusetts-based utility partner Eversource Energy will build the 880-megawatt Sunrise Wind project for energy-hungry Long Island, while Equinor will help power New York City via its 816-MW Empire Wind project. Both projects are scheduled to go online in 2024, Greentech Media reports.

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Ørsted’s New York win comes a month after it secured New Jersey’s first offshore solicitation with the 1.1-GW Ocean Wind project, 15 miles off the Atlantic City coast, which will power about 500,000 homes when it’s built.

While Ørsted is “now the undisputable centre of the U.S. offshore wind market,” said Anthony Logan, senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, Equinor’s expertise with floating wind farms “could prove vital to the U.S. as the market moves towards California’s deeper waters in the mid-2020s.”

Cuomo also seized the moment to sign the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, commonly referred to as New York’s Green New Deal, a linkage that “made clear that offshore wind will lie near the heart of the state’s power decarbonization plans,” Greentech writes. The strategy “requires 70% renewables by 2030, a complete decarbonization of the state’s electricity system by 2040, and the near-elimination of carbon from New York’s entire economy by 2050,” the industry newsletter notes. That in turn makes the new offshore projects, serving “two massive load centres with limited options for large-scale renewables generation,” a significant step toward the state’s nine-gigawatt target for 2035.

Greentech says New York’s initiative will also set off intense and accelerating competition for offshore wind jobs and supply chain investment among northeastern states, all intent on tapping into “one of the fastest-growing renewables markets in the U.S. and globally in the coming decade”.

Alert to a “supply chain on the move,” Greentech adds, Cuomo “confirmed New York will spend nearly US$300 million building and upgrading port facilities across a variety of sites, including Long Island, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the region south of Albany along the Hudson River.” That announcement followed “supply chain localization announcements” by both Equinor and Ørsted.

In an earlier report on Ørsted’s New Jersey win, Greentech said [2] the Danish company had committed to establishing a factory, along with German steel piping manufacturer EEW, to produce monopile foundation pieces in Paulsboro, an economically struggling town of some 6,000 located 18 miles south of Philadelphia.

“Foundations are one of the largest parts of an offshore wind project, both physically and in terms of the [capital expenditure] required,” Greentech notes. “Fabricating and installing foundations accounts for around one-quarter of the cost of a typical offshore wind farm, second only to the turbines themselves.”

Noting that the Paulsboro production facility “could be expanded as the U.S. offshore wind market takes off, potentially drawing a cluster of companies in the supply chain to the Garden State,” the Ørsted bid also pledged “to locate its construction logistics base, foundation, and transition-piece staging port, and its operations and maintenance port in New Jersey.”

While precise details of Ørsted’s and Equinor’s commitments remain to be confirmed, New York’s “market size, large projects out of the gate, and investing in workers and facilities all point to [it] becoming the real epicentre of East Coast offshore wind,” said Stephanie McClellan, a director at the Renewables Consulting Group.

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