Developers bid to build more wind farms off NJ coast, tripling capacity

Scant details on proposals from Ørsted and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind
Credit: (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
File photo: Aug. 15, 2016, a lift boat, right, that serves as a work platform, assembles a wind turbine off Block Island, Rhode Island.

Two offshore wind developers have submitted bids to build wind farms off the New Jersey coast in the second solicitation offered by the state, which is seeking to triple the capacity of electricity generated from the technology.

Ørsted, the winner of the first solicitation back in 2019, is once again seeking to build additional offshore wind capacity in southern New Jersey, although the company has not disclosed details of the latest project. The Danish company is already developing a 1,100-megawatt wind farm located 15 miles off Atlantic City.

“We will have more announcements in the coming months,’’ said Gabe Martinez, a spokesperson for the company, when asked why the company failed to talk about how much energy would be produced by the wind farm, if approved by the state.

The other bidder is Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture between EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies US LLC. It submitted a bid to build the 2,300-MW project between 10 to 20 miles off the coast between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light.

The solicitation closed Thursday with at least one potential bidder, Equinor North America, deciding not to enter into the bidding on a proposed Boardwalk Wind project 20 miles east of Sandy Hook, according to Julia Bovey, a spokesperson for the company.

Offshore wind is a key component of Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan to transition to 100% clean energy by mid-century. By 2035, the state hopes 7,500 MW of offshore wind will provide electricity to customers in New Jersey. Eventually, the state hopes offshore wind provides 23% of the electricity in the state.

“The solicitation process has been a race to the top,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey and a strong proponent of offshore wind off the coast. “The level of interest is a sign that New Jersey is quickly becoming an epicenter for offshore wind in the country.”

Wind projects would depend on electric utility subsidies

The state’s aggressive promotion of offshore wind projects has been backed by clean-energy advocates but questioned by business interests because the projects depend on subsidies from electric utilities to make them financially viable.

While both developers provided sparse details about their respective projects, each pledged to support the development of the New Jersey Wind Port project on unused land on Artificial Island. The project is the first port devoted solely to serving the offshore-wind sector and is viewed as among the most promising sites in the state for attracting manufacturing operations tied to the industry.

“As New Jersey looks to rebuild its economy in the wake of COVID-19 and positions itself as a leader in the new American offshore wind industry, Ørsted is uniquely positioned to help the state achieve its goals,’’ said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America.

Ørsted has emerged as a major force in offshore wind in America. It operates 26 offshore wind farms globally, and besides the first New Jersey project, the company has been awarded 2,900 MW of capacity to build five additional projects along the Eastern Seaboard.

Other wind farms possible in 2024, 2027

Ørsted’s first project in New Jersey is expected to be operational late in 2024 but could fall into 2025 because of delays with federal permitting. Atlantic Shores said it expects its project, if approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, will be completed as early as 2027.

“As the holder of one of the largest offshore wind leases in the United States, Atlantic Shores has an incredible opportunity to meet New Jersey’s demand for clean, affordable energy within our 180,000 acres,” said Jennifer Daniels, development director for Atlantic Shores.

The state’s first solicitation for offshore wind had three developers vying to win the first project award, involving Ørsted, EDF/Shell New Energies, and Equinor.