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New Jersey’s 2nd Offshore Wind Project Expected to Be Approved June 24

New Jersey is expected to approve up to 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind energy at a June 24 meeting of the state’s Board of Public Utilities, putting the Garden State at the forefront of the renewable energy movement.

The 2,400 megawatts in new offshore wind would add to the 1,100 megawatts already approved by New Jersey’s BPU, and keep the state on pace for Gov. Phil Murphy’s aggressive goal of 7,500 megawatts by 2035. That’s enough to power half of the state’s 1.5 million homes.

The first award in 2019 went to Ørsted and its Ocean Wind 1 project, which is planning 92 turbines off Cape May and southern New Jersey to produce 1,100 megawatts of renewable energy. It is currently second in the federal government’s queue of offshore wind projects under review following the Biden administration’s approval in May of the Vineyard farm off Massachusetts. Ocean Wind’s federal approval is expected by June 2023.

New Jersey’s current evaluation of bids is a two-horse race that includes Ørsted and it’s Ocean Wind 2 bid, and a developer called Atlantic Shores, which owns a 183,000-acre lease area off the coast of Atlantic City and Long Beach Island. Atlantic Shores is a joint venture between Shell New Energies US and EDF Renewables North America.

Neither of the project developers have submitted a bid for the full 2,400 megawatts, according to spokespeople with Ørsted and Atlantic Shores.

Ørsted’s Ocean Wind 2 proposal up for consideration by the BPU would provide an additional 1,200 megawatts of wind energy, a spokesman for the company said.

Atlantic Shores, meanwhile, has submitted a few proposals ranging in size, with the largest proposal calling for 200 turbines to provide 2,300 megawatts of energy, according to a spokesperson for the company.

The bids are not public, and both companies declined to provide more specifics about their proposals.

Offshore Wind Farms: The Lease Areas and Developers

Seventeen federally leased areas are off the coasts of eight U.S. states. 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.

The BPU has not said whether it will approve one or both of the companies for new projects, but an official said Friday it does “still anticipate” issuing an award this month.

One of New Jersey’s top environmental advocates said that all but assures that the award will be announced at the board’s second and final meeting of the month.

“It will be June 24,” Environment New Jersey executive director Doug O’Malley said. “It’ll be interesting to see how will the bids be decided. Ørsted got the full award last time, and the board says it’s going to go bigger this time. There are only two bids in front of them and hopefully the board awards the full 2,400, so New Jersey stays nation-leading.”

Other states from North Carolina to Massachusetts are also weighing offshore projects that would power hundreds of thousands of homes. Up to 17 projects currently proposed or in consideration off the East Coast call for more than 1,500 of the Eiffel Tower-sized turbines.

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.

Offshore wind turbines continue to get larger and larger in size as scientists and companies behind the projects say that the technology is proving that bigger means more efficient. A 12-megawatt turbine, the largest currently on the market and planned for some upcoming American developments, can power a single-family home for two days with just a single rotation of its blades.

Proponents of offshore wind farms say they are needed to replace dirtier power sources like coal and gas, but commercial fishermen in New Jersey, New England and elsewhere say their thousands of turbines in the Mid-Atlantic threatens their livelihood.

It also remains unclear the extent to which thousands of turbines would have on the stratification process of the Mid-Atlantic “Cold Pool,” a natural process that affects ocean temperatures and wildlife.

Atlantic Shores announced this week that it will fund a $500,000 study of how offshore wind farms and climate change will affect surf clams in the Mid-Atlantic. The surf clam industry is one of the most valuable American fisheries.

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