On July 18th, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo granted contracts for two offshore wind projects based off Long Island, expecting to reach 1,200 megawatts in capacity. The deal is the largest for offshore wind power in U.S. history, and it’s a vital part of the plan to get all power emissions-free by 2040. Equinor ASA and a joint venture between Denmark’s Orsted A/S and Massachusetts Eversource Energy were awarded the opportunity to construct the farms, creating enough energy to provide power for up to a million homes.


Wind farm located off the coast of Block Island, RI. (Image Credit: David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images)


After announcing the new offshore wind contract, Cuomo also signed New York’s 100% renewable energy goal into law, hoping it will spark a more aggressive approach to clean energy in the US. They plan to install enough turbines off its shores to create 9,000 megawatts of power by the time 2035 rolls around. Cuomo also expects the wind farms to be fully developed by 2024, and according to estimates from BloombergNEF, both projects may have a value of over $5 billion.


Sunrise Wind, the Orsted-Eversource joint venture will be providing 880 megawatts of power from an area located 30 miles east of Montauk Point. Meanwhile, Equinor will also provide 816 megawatts of power from its Empire Wind project, which is located 20 miles south of Long Island, east of the Rockaways.


The development will start in early 2020, pending permit approval. The Chief executive officer of Orsted Americas,Thomas Brostrom, said, “We have to go flying out of the gates to have service by 2024”. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA is ready to provide turbines for the Orsted-Eversource project.


Both contracts, which require utilities to purchase energy from the wind projects, have critical implications on the financial and developmental gains of offshore wind power in the U.S. Analysts have estimated the business could expand into a large $70 billion industry along the eastern coast, where auctions are being held in states from New York to Massachusetts to New Jersey. Project developers for New York spent months attempting to persuade officials by offering jobs, training programs, and port upgrades until the auction was over.


Installing wind turbines in the ocean is an expensive approach when it comes to generating electricity. Lately, resources have become cheaper, and states in the U.S. are finding ways to bring in clean energy to coastal areas. The government has also leased over a dozen sites to construct projects in the Atlantic, extending from North Carolina to Massachusetts. New York’s inquiry for bids attracted proposals from four developers who have buildings located off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.


Orsted was granted a contract by New Jersey in June to provide 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind power at $98.10 a megawatt-hour. That cost is three times more expensive than the average wholesale power cost in the region. The cost of offshore wind power has also decreased by 64% since 2012 to an average price of $89 a megawatt-hour, globally last year. It’s still more expensive than the $35 a megawatt-hour New York City pays on average for wholesale power over the past five years, according to Genscape.


The largest wind turbine field means it'll be the largest bird blender on the planet. Wind turbines have killed billions of birds over the years. Perhaps a change of design needs to be explored.


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