Illinois may be home to the Windy City, but New York is quickly becoming the ‘Windy State’.
New York has been at the leading edge of offshore wind development in the United States for years, and offshore wind is set to play a major role in New York’s plan to achieve 100% zero carbon energy generation by 2040.
In 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to build 2.5GW of offshore wind by 2030; this number was later raised to 9GW by 2035 in Cuomo’s 2019 State of the State Address.
While offshore wind has been established in Europe for several decades, it is still in its earliest phases in North America. Thanks to economies of scale and technological improvements, the contracted price of offshore wind in Europe has fallen by more than 50% over the last seven years, making it cost-competitive with new fossil fuel generation.
Wind power proponents hope these developments will spur further growth in the United States, which only saw its first offshore wind turbines in 2016.
New York (and the eastern seaboard in general) is one of the best places on Earth for offshore wind. Regional conditions allow turbines to achieve a 40% higher capacity factor due to strong prevailing winds.
Winds in New York’s waters are consistent and the strongest winds coincide with Peak electricity demand times, and strong winter winds coincide with Peak heating demand, which incentivizes the increased use of electric heating – itself one of the measures New York City is adopting to reduce its HVAC-related emissions.
Billions in offshore wind investments coming to Empire State
New York is now home to the largest offshore wind power projects in the United States, and the January 13th, 2021 announcement of 2.5GW worth of contracts to BP and Equinor is one of the single largest renewable energy contracts ever awarded in the US. BP and Equinor’s investments total $8.9 billion and should provide enough energy to power 1.3 million homes in the state.
In total, Equinor plans 3.3GW of offshore wind development in New York (more than one-third of the state’s total 2035 goal), including the Empire Wind 2 project (1,260MW), itself expanding on the 816MW Empire Wind 1 installation, which the company began building after the 2019 solicitation period.
BP is working on the 1,260MW Beacon 1 project, while Ørsted’s Sunrise Wind project is rated at 880MW. New York is thus well-positioned to secure a share of the $70 billion in offshore wind investment expected to accumulate in the US by 2030.
According to NYSERDA, there is currently 4.3GW worth of offshore wind under construction in New York, with project development, component manufacturing, installation, operations, and maintenance expected to support 6,800 jobs.
New York has also signalled its intention to convert the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and the Port of Albany into large-scale, offshore wind manufacturing hubs – including the country’s first offshore wind turbine tower plant.