Construction begins on New York’s first offshore wind farm

New York State broke ground on Friday with its first offshore wind farm, sparking a boom in similar projects aimed at transforming the state’s — and the nation’s — energy mix. The South Fork wind project off the coast of Long Island is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2023.

New York has the largest pipeline of offshore wind projects of any state in the nation, five of which are in active development. South Fork Wind is billed as one of the very first commercial offshore wind farms in North America. When complete, it will be capable of generating 130 megawatts (MW) of electricity – enough to power 70,000 homes in nearby East Hampton.

That alone equates to a major expansion of offshore wind capacity in the US. The nation has only two operational wind farms along its coasts – off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia – with a combined capacity of just 42 MW.

That will change dramatically in the coming years. Ørsted and Eversource, the energy companies developing South Fork, have an even bigger project in the works nearby: Sunrise Wind, a 924MW wind farm that is expected to break ground next year.

Collectively, all offshore projects under development in New York State’s current portfolio total over 4,300 MW of clean energy. By 2035, the state wants to generate more than twice as much renewable energy from offshore wind. To accomplish this, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in January a $500 million funding to build manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure for offshore wind energy. The money is also going to modernize the country’s ports to cope with the wind farm boom.

By 2035, the Biden administration envisions a 100 percent clean power sector nationwide. Offshore wind is expected to play a large role in achieving this goal, as the government last year set a target of 30,000 MW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030. To pursue this goal, the government recently announced plans to auction off vast expanses of water along the country’s continental coasts. This includes areas in New York Bay off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, where the administration plans to hold an offshore wind power auction later this month.

South Fork Wind is further east about 35 miles from Montauk Point, Long Island. There, 12 Siemens Gamesa turbines will tower over the Atlantic – each with blades longer than the Statue of Liberty.

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