US Approves 2nd Major Offshore Wind Project

BOEM Green Lights South Fork Wind Project

By Simon West

The U.S. has taken another step towards its goal of reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, after federal authorities approved the construction and operations of a second commercial-scale wind farm in public waters.

The 132-megawatt South Fork Wind project, a joint venture between Danish energy group Ørsted and New England-based Eversource, received a green light from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, to install up to 12 wind turbines some 35 miles from Montauk Point off northeast New York state.

According to Ørsted, site preparation and onshore construction of the project’s underground transmission line is expected to start in early 2022, pending the final approval of the construction and operations plan, or COP.

The fabrication of the project’s offshore substation is already underway, with Kiewit Offshore Services charged with designing and building the 1,500-tonne, 60-foot-tall structure at its construction facilities in Ingleside, Texas. Offshore installation of monopile foundations and 11-megawatt Siemens-Gamesa wind turbines is expected to begin in summer 2023.

‘Momentum Gaining’

“This project will kick-start New York’s offshore wind industry and power about 70,000 New York homes with clean, offshore wind energy when it begins operations at the end of 2023,” the Danish firm said.

Although onshore wind is big business in the U.S., its offshore counterpart is barely out of the starting blocks, with uncertainty in recent years over leasing and permitting processes hampering development.

President Biden is backing the nascent industry as part of his administration’s aggressive clean energy drive, with the 30 GW target expected to trigger more than US$12 billion per year in capital investments and create tens of thousands of jobs.

The BOEM, which oversees leasing and permitting for offshore projects, said it planned to review “at least 16” COPs for major offshore wind projects by 2025, representing more than 19 GW of capacity.

In July, the Bureau gave the thumbs up to the 800-MW Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard – the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm to be approved in the U.S.

Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, is planning to install 62, 13-MW General Electric Haliade-X wind turbines, with operations slated to begin in 2023.

“In just six months, the U.S. offshore wind industry has seen the approval of two large-scale wind power projects, and momentum is gaining,” said Liz Burdock, president and CEO of industry lobby group the Business Network for Offshore Wind.