The offshore wind (OSW) industry is a key element in New York City’s ambitious goal to transition to clean energy in the coming decades. The federal waters offshore from the city’s open and available coastlines are ideal locations for wind farms, making wind-generated energy a vital renewable energy resource for helping New York City meet its goals of 100 percent clean electricity by 2040 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
In September 2021, then Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced a 15-year, $191 million Offshore Wind Vision Plan. Its aim is to develop best-in-class infrastructure for supporting the deployment of offshore wind farms in the New York Bight (the coastal area that extends from the Cape May inlet in New Jersey to Montauk Point on the eastern tip of Long Island). This investment will also support new wind-related manufacturing, installation, operations and maintenance, transmission, and other OSW activities to be located in NYC.
In addition to meeting the city’s clean energy objectives, the OSW Vision Plan will:
- Eliminate 34.5 million tons of CO2 — the equivalent of removing nearly 500,000 cars from roadways for 15 years
- Create more than 13,000 jobs and generate $1.3 billion in average annual investment
- Ensure 40 percent of job and investment opportunities are directed toward women, minorities, and environmental justice communities
New York City plans to leverage its maritime infrastructure, its diverse talent base and workforce and business development ecosystems, and its capacity for innovation across all involved sectors, with three core objectives:
- Sites and infrastructure — develop the technologies and infrastructure needed to support the construction and operation of 12 GW of offshore wind turbines
- Businesses and workforce — train local businesses and workers to enter into the supply chain and provide the skill sets needed for the new, high-paying jobs that will result from these investments and new employment opportunities
- Research and innovation — promote New York City-based R&D in offshore wind systems and technologies that can be exported around the world, building the city’s reputation as center of OSW innovation
Choice Offshore Wind Sites
New York City already has infrastructure in place to create OSW hubs in Brooklyn, such as the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT), the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Red Hook Container Terminal. Staten Island is also strongly positioned to be a major contributor to the OSW Vision Plan — the Arthur Kill Terminal (AKT) would provide open access to the newly established federal offshore wind lease areas and also attract manufacturers of components to New York City Industrial Business Zones (IBZs), creating additional jobs through a growing network of supportive suppliers moving into the area.
New York City plans to leverage its maritime infrastructure, its diverse talent base and workforce and business development ecosystems, and its capacity for innovation across all involved sectors. One spot where the OSW industry is likely to grow is Rossville, Staten Island, where the city recently released a request for proposals for a 33-acre waterfront site on the Arthur Kill. Between AKT, Rossville, and other nearby large sites on the south shore of Staten Island — combined with the island’s legacy maritime cluster of tug and barge businesses on the north shore — New York harbor is a powerhouse for advancing OSW renewable energy on the East Coast.
Already under way, SBMT is the most advanced part of the OSW Vision Plan because of its existing infrastructure, facilities, and excellent location. New York City has committed $57 million in support of OSW development at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, on top of $115 million invested over the past decade, which will transform SBMT into one of the largest offshore wind port facilities in the nation. Plans include heavy lift piers and establishing an OSW operations and maintenance base for the Norwegian energy giant Equinor. The terminal will also become a power interconnection site where wind energy from the Empire Wind 1 project will plug into the city grid providing power for half a million homes (this is power from Equinor’s first North American wind farm located 14 miles offshore from the Verrazzano Bridge). Additionally, Equinor will use SBMT for the next decade to stage and prepare OSW turbines for installation offshore as part of Equinor’s commitment to build their Empire Wind 1 & 2 and Beacon Wind 1 energy generation projects in New York State. Following Equinor’s use of the terminal to build wind farms, SBMT will play a role in the development of wind farms by other OSW developers — serving as a conveyor belt for the creation of the next generation of renewable energy.
“The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal will launch a whole new industry for New York City,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “This is a transformative moment for New York City and our future of sustainable power and the good-paying jobs it will create.”
New York City will support the creation of an OSW developer-funded accelerator for New York-based startups to help them develop next-generation OSW technologies that will make wind energy systems more efficient and less costly. Future Investments
Another aim of the OSW Vision Plan is to secure additional federal, state, and private funding to drive the core objectives forward at the highest possible speed to achieve the long-term goals of 100 percent clean electricity by 2040 and carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as to become an internationally recognized expert on OSW in the process. To help grow these bold plans , NYCEDC has established an Offshore Wind Industry Advisory Council, whose members are experienced in the offshore wind industry and will lend expert insights as development progresses.
“These investments not only position New York City as a hub for the emerging domestic offshore wind industry, but also increase economic opportunities for the historically disenfranchised residents of Sunset Park in Brooklyn,” said K.C. Sahl, Northeast Energy Market Leader at VHB, a civil engineering firm active in the offshore wind industry and co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Advisory Council. “New York City is also modeling how large-scale climate and economic goals can be achieved through inclusive partnerships with public, private, and community-based stakeholders.”
With 520 miles of coastline and one of the largest natural harbors on the East Coast that has attracted generations of maritime entrepreneurship, New York City is poised to be a major center for the development, construction, and long-term maintenance and operation of offshore wind farms on the East Coast. From legacy piers and new infrastructure to repurposed and new industrial spaces, there is an abundance of opportunities for growth of the offshore wind industry.