Rejected for One Offshore-Wind Project, Company Rebounds with Bigger Plans

Tom Johnson | December 20, 2018 | Energy & Environment
EDF Renewables announces joint venture for a project eight miles out from Atlantic City, aims to have it in operation by mid-2020s

offshore wind
It didn’t take long for EDF Renewables to get back in the game.

A day after its bid to build a small pilot offshore-wind farm about three miles from Atlantic City was rejected by New Jersey regulators, the company announced a joint venture to build a much bigger wind farm further off the coast that would provide power to as many as one million homes.

EDF and Shell New Energies US LLC have acquired 183,353 acres of lease area previously purchased by US Wind to develop as much as 2,500 megawatts of wind energy about eight miles off the coast of the resort city. US Wind acquired lease acreage off the coast from the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management in an auction in 2015.

The announcement suggests the denial by the state Board of Public Utilities on Tuesday of a 25-megawatt demonstration project pushed by EDF has not dimmed the sector’s interest in pursuing offshore-wind development off the Jersey coast.

The Murphy administration has adopted the nation’s most aggressive targets for developing offshore wind, hoping to build 3,500 MW of capacity off the New Jersey coast by 2030. The state’s initial solicitation of 1,100 MW is seeking applications from offshore-wind developers by next Friday.

The joint venture plans to file an application in the solicitation next week, according to a spokesperson for EDF.

Advocates hope competition will drive down costs

That solicitation will be followed by two more in 2020 and 2022, a signal that offshore-wind developers believe the state’s commitment to building a robust sector for the technology.

Up to five developers are expected to seek to build offshore-wind farms in the current solicitation. Those projects could range from locations off Atlantic City, to about 16 miles off Cape May, and in the New York Bight.

That interest is welcomed by clean-energy advocates who say competition will drive down the cost of offshore-wind energy — a big concern in New Jersey because of its already high energy costs for consumers and businesses.

The lease area announced yesterday offers strong and steady wind resources in relatively shallow waters of the outer continental shelf, according to the companies.

“The opportunity supports the EDF group’s aim to double global renewable capacity to 50 gigawatts by 2030,’’ said Tristan Grimbert, president and CEO of EDF Renewables North America. One gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the joint venture — dubbed Atlantic Shores Wind, LLC — will develop the lease areas. It plans to begin working on a site assessment plan and to initiate formal development efforts on the site and could bring the wind farm into operation by the mid-2020s, the company said.

EDF Renewables already has 2,000 MW of offshore-wind development in operation or development in Europe. Shell first entered the onshore wind business in the U.S. in 2001.