offshore wind

Ocean Tracts off NJ, NY Pull in More than $2 Billion for Offshore Wind Farms

The bidding for areas of the Atlantic Ocean by offshore wind farm developers has exceeded expectations for the amount of money that the federal auction would attract.

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What to Know

  • Thousands of massive wind turbines will be erected in the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States in the next 10-20 years.
  • The turbines, each taller than the Washington Monument, will power millions of homes and businesses once the wind farms are built by developers.
  • The federal auction for ocean tracts conducted this week is the first during the Biden administration and will add about six new farms to the 17 already in planning stages.

The largest auction of offshore wind sites in the nation's history is drawing strong interest from companies in an indication of the industry's potential.

By midday Thursday, the second day of the auction by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, bids had reached $2 billion on six tracts of ocean floor off New York and New Jersey in an area known as the New York Bight.

When fully developed, these sites could provide enough energy to power 2 million homes, the agency said.

More than $1.5 billion worth of bids were received Wednesday, the first day of the auction, and officials said it is possible bidding could extend into a third day, given the strong response thus far.

The response to the auction “shows that the offshore wind industry has truly arrived,” said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, adding that it “proves that clean renewable energy off the Jersey Shore is poised to enter a boom period.”

Rising Heights of Offshore Wind Turbines

Wind turbines in the ocean are much bigger than the on-land versions that dominate the landscape in places like the American Midwest. Here is how the largest turbine on the market, General Electric's 12MW Haliede X, compares in size to some well-known structures.

Credit: Nelson Hsu/NBC

Shortly after noon, more than $1.95 billion worth of bids had been submitted on the six tracts.

The auction for nearly 500,000 acres (about 202,342 hectares), when combined with past auctions, will span nearly 1 million acres. It was the largest such auction in the nation's history, BOEM said.

President Joe Biden has set a goal to install 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes.

The administration has approved the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters: the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project off the Massachusetts coast and the 130-megawatt South Fork wind farm near New York’s Long Island.

Not everyone is delighted with the scope and speed of offshore wind development. Homeowners groups in several spots in New Jersey are opposing the projects on environmental, economic and aesthetic grounds.

And even some environmental groups are displeased. New Jersey's Clean Ocean Action called the auction “too much, too fast.”

Offshore Wind Farms: The Lease Areas and Developers

Seventeen federally leased areas are off the coasts of eight U.S. states, as of December 2021. Half a dozen more will be added through the federal auction held in February 2022. Click on each lease site to see how many turbines are expected or estimated, to which developer they belong and how much power will be generated. Turbine totals are either based on developers’ proposals or estimated using power generated by the largest turbine currently on the market.

Data: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Nina Lin / NBC

“COA supports responsible and reasonable offshore wind energy, but this is a reckless privatization, and will not ensure protection of marine life including whales, dolphins, turtles and the hundreds of other species that call the ocean home,” the group said.

Cindy Zipf, the group's executive director, said the auction area is five times the size of New York City.

Five of the six tracts are located off the central or southern coasts of New Jersey. The largest, at over 114,000 acres (about 46,134 hectares), is located off the coast of Long Beach Island, and could generate enough electricity to power nearly half a million homes, according to the ocean energy bureau.

The bureau said it will make public the identities of the successful bidders once the auction is concluded.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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