What is Offshore Wind Energy?
Offshore wind power or offshore wind energy is the energy taken from the force of the winds out at sea, transformed into electricity and supplied into the electricity network onshore.
Absolutely. Offshore wind power is a constantly renewable and infinite energy source, and the conversion of wind into power creates no harmful greenhouse gas emissions. As we work to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse gases, offshore wind power will play an essential role in our future electricity generation.
Why Offshore Wind Energy and Why Now?
The world is segueing into green energy solutions amid the many crises at hand where fossil fuels are not stacking up. The hardest hit is the every day consumer, with rocketing gas prices that have people dreading their time at the pumps more than ever. Green activists hailed New York as a leader in the fight against climate change in 2019 when lawmakers approved the Climate Act, a landmark bill committing the state to cut its greenhouse emissions by 85% by 2050. Now comes the hard part.
The state Climate Action Council, a 22-member panel that includes regulators, environmentalists and energy industry representatives, issued a 330-page draft report late last month, laying out a wide-ranging roadmap on what the state should do if it intends to reach its climate action targets, which rank among the most ambitious in the country. The report envisions nearly all passenger vehicles sold in New York to be electric by 2030. By 2040, all of the state’s power would come from zero-emissions sources. And by 2050, 85% of homes and commercial buildings are expected to be equipped with electrified heat pumps, not fossil-fuel-churning furnaces.
Offshore Wind Energy Lifespan
In terms of durability, wind turbines last an average of about 25 years. About 85 percent of turbine component materials—such as steel, copper wire, electronics, and gearing—can be recycled or reused. But the blades are different as they are made up of fiberglass (a composite material) to be lightweight for efficiency yet still durable enough to withstand storms. The mixed nature of the blade material makes separating the plastics from the glass fibers to recycle into a workable fiberglass material difficult—and the strength needed for the blades means they are also physically challenging to break apart.
HOW DO WIND TURBINES WORK?
A wind turbine works like a fan, but in reverse: instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the turbine’s blades, which spin a shaft connected to a generator to make electricity. Take a look inside a wind turbine to see the various parts, or view the wind turbine animation to see how a wind turbine works.
IS WIND POWER MORE EXPENSIVE THAN OTHER FORMS OF ENERGY?
The average levelized cost of wind power purchase agreements signed in recent years has been 2–3 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the wind resource and the project’s financing. Because the electricity from wind farms is sold at a fixed price over a long period of time (e.g. 20 years) and its fuel is free, wind energy mitigates the price uncertainty that fuel costs add to traditional sources of energy.
In windy areas like the Midwestern United States, wind energy is cost-competitive with building a new natural gas fired power plant, and continued research and development could cut the cost of wind energy in half by 2030, bringing the unsubsidized cost of wind energy below the projected cost of fuel for existing natural gas plants. Wind projects compare favorably with other forms of energy through 2040. For more information on the current state of the wind power market in the United States, refer to the Energy Department’s Wind Technologies Market Report.
How is New York State leading offshore wind development in the U.S.?
With the largest offshore wind pipeline in the nation, New York has five offshore wind projects in active development, totaling morethan 4,300 megawatts. NYSERDA awarded a total of four offshore wind projects to bring clean power to the State’s electricity grid – Empire Wind 1 (816 MW), Empire Wind 2 (1,260 MW), and Beacon Wind (1,230 MW) (Equinor Wind US LLC) and Sunrise Wind (880 MW) (Sunrise Wind LLC, a joint venture of Ørsted A/S and Eversource Energy). In addition, the Long Island Power Authority awarded a contract for the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind Farm (Ørsted A/S
and Eversource Energy).
To support these and future offshore wind projects, offshore wind developers are investing in the State’s workforce and resilient port facilities, making New York a leader in offshore wind supply chain development. Additionally, New York State continues to play a critical leadership role in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic through its technical working groups, facilitating important best practices, research and adaptive management strategies, and active stakeholder engagement approaches.
Nationally, New York State is a key partner in the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to managing industry-focused research and development of offshore wind to maximize economic benefits for the U.S.
How many jobs will offshore wind create?
New York’s economy and its communities will benefit from billions of dollars in infrastructure investments and more than 10,000 new jobs in manufacturing, installation, and operation of offshore wind facilities. Consistent with the Climate Act’s commitment to building climate equity, the NYSERDA project selection process prioritizes benefits to Disadvantaged Communities, and the OREC contracts include important provisions for wage and labor agreements by offshore wind developers as well as commitments to incentivize opportunities for Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses
(M/WBEs) to ensure that the projects deliver high-quality jobs for New York workers.
How can New Yorkers be trained to join the offshore wind workforce?
The State is taking new steps to support workforce development in partnership with the private sector, including establishing a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development, a new $20 million Offshore Wind Training Institute (OWTI), a $10 million National Offshore Wind Training Center (NOWTC) with Sunrise Wind, and a $5 million Community and Workforce Benefits Fund (CWB Fund) with Equinor to establish the institutional infrastructure to educate, train and employ New Yorkers in offshore wind. These investments will particularly benefit
New York’s low-income and environmental justice communities.