Massive turbines, with blades as long as football fields, will one day spin in the Atlantic Ocean off the Jersey Shore.
The first wind farm off New Jersey is expected to begin generating clean energy by 2024, according to Ørsted, the Danish company that received New Jersey's initial permit for an 1,100-megawatt project last year. It will generate enough electricity to power 500,000 homes.
The company has released a first look at what the farm's 99 turbines will look like from the beaches of Atlantic City and Stone Harbor once they are up and running. The "virtual reality tour" also provides a view from one of the turbines, which will be roughly 15 miles out to sea and in an area off southern New Jersey between Cape May and Atlantic City. Take a tour:
"What we’ve seen and heard, by and large, is folks are surprised about how difficult they are to see from shore," Ørsted US senior manager of stakeholder engagement Kris Ohleth said in an interview with NBC10. "At that distance from shore, they are very hard to see. Some people express to us, 'I wish I could see them better.'"
The virtual reality video was supposed to become the centerpiece of a public relations tour this summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily derailed that.
Ørsted officials plan to restart their outreach campaign in October, however. Dates for virtual open house meetings will be announced soon.
The company's project, called Ocean Wind, is already in full swing. Its "construction operations plan" has been submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and it is conducting surveys both on land and offshore to determine where the energy created to connect to New Jersey's power grid.
Ohleth said Ocean Wind is expected to begin operations in 2024.
The project is one of several offshore wind farms in early stages that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is examining. At least seven farms are in planning for locations in the Atlantic Ocean from South Carolina up to New England.
New Jersey is going to announce a second offshore wind project by next June, according to the state's Board of Public Utilities. That next project could be double the size of Ocean Wind, and deliver up to 2,400 megawatts of clean energy to New Jersey's grid.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also announced plans earlier this summer for a "wind port" in Salem County along the Delaware Bay that would become a hub for construction of wind turbines. Currently, the United States has no capacity for construction of the turbines needed for the farms.
Only one wind farm currently operates along the American coastline, a 5-turbine farm off Rhode Island that Ørsted built. The Block Island Warm Farm began operations in 2016.