In New Jersey, the state is promoting the development of the country’s first port dedicated to the offshore wind industry along the Delaware River. Smaller states like Connecticut are also clustering and investing in port infrastructure to serve the industries in Bridgeport and New London. The state has signed contracts to purchase around 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind power, enough to provide around 20 percent of the state’s energy supply.
“Our efforts to decarbonise our economy create one of the greatest opportunities of this generation,” said Katie Dykes, commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment.
An analysis for the independent New York grid operator estimated that the state would need 21 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2040 to meet its climate goals. That corresponds to more than half of the power plant capacity installed in New York today. A recent study in Massachusetts estimated that achieving net zero emissions would require 15 gigawatts, while a New Jersey consultant put Garden State’s offshore wind needs at 11 gigawatts.
The massive expansion has raised concerns about the placement of all turbines. State and federal officials say not enough ocean is currently leased to support the expansion called for in state plans.
Doreen Harris, director of the New York Energy Research and Development Agency, estimates that there is a 6,000 megawatt gap between the available rental space and the destinations of New York, New Jersey and the neighboring states. She said the federal government’s approach to future leases will be particularly important in New York Bight, the shallow water area between Long Island and New Jersey. Without new leased land, the ability of states to achieve their wind development goals remains limited.
The Biden government committed Monday to lease a new area of New York Bight and said it intended to announce a new lease sale by late 2021 or early 2022. This process is overseen by Amanda Lefton, a former New York environmental politician who Biden tipped to head the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
“Success at BOEM means that we have developed a safer process that enables transparency and efficiency when reviewing offshore wind projects,” Lefton said in an interview.
Fishing groups and changing markets
The prospect of leasing large amounts of sea for wind development has met with fierce opposition from fishing groups. Earlier this month, lobster fishermen in Maine orbited a survey vessel operating off the state coast. according to local news reports.
Fishing groups opposed Biden’s grand offshore energy plans.
David Frulla, a Washington-based attorney who advocates the Atlantic scallop fishery, warned it could end up as “collateral damage” in the government’s quest for more development.