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New report says NJ could meet entire electric demand with offshore wind

For Immediate Release

Trenton -- New Jersey ranks 7th amongst Atlantic coastal states for its technical potential for total offshore wind power but first in the states for current projects in the pipeline, according to a new report released today by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. The report, Offshore Wind for America, examines U.S. offshore wind potential by both coastal region and by state, while documenting the status of existing projects and technological advances. New Jersey could provide 379% of its 2019 electrical needs and 167% of its 2050 electrical usage with offshore wind alone, according to an analysis using National Renewable Energy Laboratory data. For projections of 2050 electricity demand, the report assumes that U.S. buildings, industry and transportation will all be powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels by mid-century.

“New Jersey has some of the largest offshore wind potential in the country and by taking advantage of it we can solidify our place as a leader in clean, renewable energy. Offshore wind is a clean energy goldmine off the Jersey Shore,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center.  Offshore Wind for America reminds us that offshore wind can and will rise to the occasion of meeting our energy needs right here in New Jersey. This incredible resource is still largely untapped, but we have the chance to take advantage of it and build a resilient green future for New Jerseyans. Now is the time to go big on offshore wind.”

The Atlantic region – from Maine to Florida – has the technical potential to produce almost 4,600 TWh of electricity each year, more than four times as much power as those states used in 2019, and almost twice as much as they would use in 2050 if the country underwent maximal electrification, based on estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The Atlantic region, especially the Northeast, has strong, consistent wind and a wide, shallow continental shelf, making deployment of offshore wind relatively straightforward using existing technology.

“For decades we have looked to the sun for clean, renewable energy and the solar energy industry has continued to grow and mature.  Now, it is time to tap into the enormous potential of offshore wind to help meet New Jersey’s clean energy goals to power our homes, schools, and businesses with electricity that produces no greenhouse gases.  This report clearly lays out the potential for New Jersey to become a national leader in offshore wind power and recommends effective and responsible policies that are necessary to develop this new energy sector quickly,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Chair of the Science, Innovation & Technology Committee.

New Jersey got strong marks in the report for having the largest permitted project moving forward in the country – Ocean Wind off of Atlantic City --- which will produce 1100 megawatts (MW) of energy 14 plus miles off the Jersey Shore. The Orsted project was awarded the first solicitation by the NJBPU. This June, the second solicitation will be awarded by NJBPU for offshore wind projects up to 2400 MW, and the NJBPU has outlined a solicitation schedule through 2035. Governor Murphy in the opening weeks of his Administration in 2018 signed EO 8 to commit NJ to 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030. In November 2019, the Governor signed EO 92 to increase the commitment to 7,500 MW by 2035. These goals will allow New Jersey to reach its 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard mandate in the 2018 Clean Energy Act and protect both Shore and inland communities from the existential threat that climate change poses to the Jersey Shore.

The report outlined the expected wind capacity for the two current Wind Energy Areas that have been leased by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to Orsted and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, and lists the potential for offshore wind of 1,947 and 2,500 MW, respectively, which is the largest combined total of potential wind in the country. The current Orsted project has been granted a solicitation by NJBPU of 1,100 MW, which is the largest in the country right now.

Offshore wind technology is advanced and proven, widely deployed in Europe and Asia, and continues to improve. There are more than 5,500 offshore turbines currently deployed around the world, and more than 27 gigawatts (GW) of installed generating capacity –b enough to power 7.3 million U.S. homes. The average capacity of the turbines currently installed is more than 12 times larger than that of the turbines in the first offshore wind farm built in 1991, and today’s turbines are hundreds of feet taller and more efficient even than turbines installed in 2010. They are being installed in much deeper water, and tens of miles farther from shore. Turbines that will be available in the next few years promise a new level of efficiency and generation capacity and could help reduce the costs of offshore wind while helping it power more of our energy needs.

“Atlantic County, and Atlantic City in particular, are dramatically affected by flooding caused by climate change. Our NJ DEP has recently released a new ‘100-year flood’ proposal that would impact our existing commercial and residential development on our barrier islands. We need federal and state funding to address flooding caused by climate change. Our economic driver is on an island -- this is an emergency if there ever was one,” said Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick.  

The United States already has many projects in the development pipeline. In addition to the two operational pilot projects, there are 34 proposals for offshore wind development, which includes 27 projects in various stages of planning and development. Together, they total more than 26 GW of site capacity. The U.S. is set to see huge growth in offshore wind, which will help mature the industry and continue to drive down costs.

“Atlantic County is a leader in the use of clean, renewable energy sources having established the first coastal wind farm in the U.S. The development of offshore wind will offer our area new economic opportunities and aligns with Atlantic County’s efforts to diversify our regional economy,” said Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.

In addition to highlighting states that stand to provide the most offshore wind power relative to their electricity usage, the report also highlights how the success and growth of offshore wind globally in Europe and Asia has supported the continued advancements of offshore wind technologies. Turbine power and efficiency continue to improve, while the introduction of floating turbines will be crucial for expanding offshore wind potential in states with especially deep coastal water, such as Maine and California.

“New Jersey is long overdue for the development of wind energy solutions to meet current and prospective energy needs for generations to come,” said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi who also serves the County of Cape May as Director of Emergency Management.  “Wind energy has a track record of proven success in other areas of the world and New Jersey is facilitating this first ocean wind farm project with many technological advances that have been tested and improved for many years. Whether or not you believe in the science, climate change and sea level rise is real which obligates seashore communities to be more resilient.  Coastal homeowners must accept adaptation includes houses being built higher, utility services being more resilient.  Wind energy is a component of this plan to deliver reliable power necessary to support our coastal communities.”

“With costs falling, supply chains building, and more urgency than ever regarding the changes in our climate, now is the time for offshore wind”, said Kris Ohleth, Executive Director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind. “Thanks to Environment New Jersey for clearly demonstrating the promise and potential of offshore wind in this timely report.” 

“NJ is smart in taking advantage of this huge opportunity to build a renewable energy sector in offshore wind. We are positioning ourselves to be the regional hub that will create thousands of good, green jobs from manufacturing to building. The Wind Port alone is projected to bring in 1,500 jobs and support up to $500 million of new economic activity. Offshore wind hits the trifecta: good for the environment, workers, and economy,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council.

The report recommendations on how offshore wind can power the U.S. with clean energy – but taking advantage of the opportunity will require support from policymakers and regulatory bodies – are numerous. To help the industry grow, and to hasten the transition to renewable energy, governments and regulatory agencies at all levels should:

• Provide market certainty for offshore wind, as Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia have done by setting enforceable targets for offshore wind deployment.

• Support domestic supply chain development.

• Set national standards to ensure the environmental integrity of offshore wind projects and to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to marine ecosystems and wildlife.

• Direct the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and relevant state agencies to accelerate the offshore wind leasing and permitting process while ensuring transparency and environmental responsibility.

• Increase and extend tax credits for offshore wind power.

• Plan for regional offshore wind development, including transmission infrastructure.

• Support research and development of new offshore wind technologies.

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Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmentnewjerseycenter.org