Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Offshore Wind Power Moves Forward in NYS

Offshore wind. (AdobeStock/366215509)

George Harvey

The United States is finally starting to develop its offshore wind power. At the beginning of 2023, the country had seven offshore wind turbines, a tiny fraction of the numbers already built by other countries. Nevertheless, the momentum for the industry is growing, and that is especially true for New York, where Governor Kathy Hochul has been busy pushing offshore wind power.

Readers should understand that offshore wind turbines are gigantic. Their tower components and blades are far too long to transport on roads or by rail. Onshore wind turbines, with blades that must be trucked, are limited by size to about three megawatts (MW) capacity, but offshore wind turbine components can be transported by ship, and some are 15 MW, with blades over 115 meters (377 feet) long. And offshore turbine nacelles, which contain the generators, can be as big as a small house.

That brings us to New York. One of the state’s great assets is the Hudson River. Ships and barges can travel up and down, and they can carry the long components of offshore wind turbines from as far north as Albany down to the sea at the New York Bight. Workers well inland can have jobs building towers, blades, and other components for offshore turbines.

Karp Strategies, LLC, did an analysis of the employment and business effects of building factories on the Hudson River to support offshore wind power. These consist of a tower making facility at the Port of Albany and facilities to make blades and nacelles at the Port of Coeymans, ten miles south of Albany.

The plant at the Port of Albany is being built to manufacture 150 towers per year. Construction is expected to cost $802 million to build and is already under way. The facility at Coeymans is expected to cost $800 million to $900 million and has been approved and is ready to build. Other investment in the area might mean construction investments could total $2.1 billion. It is expected that there will be over 7,500 construction jobs created, with over 2,000 related jobs, and these should continue for several years.

When the plants are in operation, they should employ 2,200 workers. That figure is the number of jobs at the plants themselves, making wind turbine components. There will be other jobs created to support the effort. Some of these are indirect, for example supplying source materials to the plants. Others jobs will be induced, including such things as food vendors supplying workers on the lunch breaks. Altogether, the wind farm construction could have as much as $5 billion in economic impacts in the New York capital region.

Of course, the investments and jobs all depend on the offshore wind farms being built. Over the past couple of months we have come across a number of stories saying that companies building wind farms of the East Coast of the United States were having troubles due to inflation or supply chain problems. Some projects have been canceled or reset, and that includes Empire 2. It was to come after Empire 1, which is now under construction.

The issues causing these problems certainly slow offshore wind development, but they are not expected to delay it for the long term. When an offshore project gets canceled, it is put out to bid again, and a company picks it up anew.

Construction of the wind farm itself means other facilities will be built. These may require their own studies, approvals, and permits, in varying venues. In December, the New York State Public Service Commission approved plans by Empire Offshore Wind, LLC for the offshore and onshore transmission facilities for the Empire 1 Offshore Wind Project. It is to run 17.5 miles of transmission lines through New York state waters to a connection point in Brooklyn.

As we can see, the activity relating to wind farms in the New York Bight is creating economic benefits far beyond reducing greenhouse gasses.

To see this article in a pdf file, as it appears in print, please click HERE and scroll down.

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