New Jersey’s offshore wind industry on fast track

Matthew Fazelpoor//May 9, 2022

New Jersey’s offshore wind industry on fast track

Matthew Fazelpoor//May 9, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy has made offshore wind a centerpiece of his push for cleaner energy. – DANIEL MUNOZ

Evidence abounds that New Jersey’s offshore wind industry is taking flight. From the emphasis on the technology placed by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration to a mega-conference held in Atlantic City to the awarding of construction projects to the development of needed infrastructure to educational programs and partnerships, there can be no mistake that we are watching the launch of potentially multibillion-dollar industry in real-time.

During his recent trip to Ireland, Murphy hosted a panel with wind power developer Ørsted, highlighting the importance of renewable energy projects.

“New Jersey is already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change, and we must meet those challenges with bold, intentional action. Through my administration, New Jersey has one of the most aggressive solicitation schedules for the offshore wind industry, setting a goal of 7,500 megawatts by 2035,” Murphy said. “There is no other renewable energy resource that provides us with electric generation or the economic growth potential of offshore wind. To aid our efforts, we are constructing an offshore-wind component manufacturing facility and also building the New Jersey Wind Port, which will make us the logistic hub for the offshore wind energy along the entirety of the eastern United States.”

At the center of all of this is New Jersey’s first offshore wind project, Ocean Wind 1, which Ørsted and PSEG have teamed up to build. The 1,100-megawatt project is expected to power 500,000 New Jersey homes. While Ocean Wind 1 is not likely to be completed until early 2024, work has been ramping up.

Just last month, Ocean Wind 1 awarded its first three major construction contracts. JINGOLI Power LLC and Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co. were awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contracts for the installation of two high voltage substations and nearly 9 miles of underground cable that will connect the offshore wind farm to the onshore electric grid at two landfall points.

“The awarding of these construction contracts marks significant milestones in moving the state’s first offshore wind project forward,” said Grant van Wyngaarden, head of procurement, Ørsted North America. “We are focused on doing all we can to meet the state’s timeline for delivering the Ocean Wind 1 project, hiring locally, creating job opportunities, and encouraging supply chain growth to help the offshore wind industry.”

That announcement was followed by another, just days later, with the signing of a Letter of Intent between Ørsted and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for the company to lease the New Jersey Wind Port in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County for two years, starting in April 2024.

Murphy made the announcement during a speech at the Business Network for Offshore Wind’s International Partnering Forum (IPF) in Atlantic City, which drew more than 2,000 attendees, and featured experts from the industry.

“The New Jersey Wind Port is a historic and catalytic investment. As a state, we’ve committed more than $500 million to build the essential infrastructure required to install offshore wind projects from our shores,” Murphy said.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ocean Wind 1 to Salem County as the New Jersey Wind Port’s first tenant. By partnering with Ørsted and PSEG, the New Jersey Wind Port will create hundreds of high-quality jobs and will drive millions of dollars of investment back into our communities,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.

To that end, investment is being made in many of these South Jersey counties, such as Salem, Atlantic and Gloucester.

Last month, U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st District, announced a $2.8 million grant from the United States Economic Development Administration to expand the Paulsboro Water Treatment Plant to prepare for the expected job growth from the Paulsboro Wind Port. That investment is being matched by another $2.8 million in local funds.

“The offshore wind industry in South Jersey means good-paying, clean energy jobs for local workers. To accommodate economic growth, we need to invest in the infrastructure that will support a growing industrial base right here in Paulsboro,” Norcross said. “I’m excited to see federal agencies like the EDA supporting local projects to accelerate our transition to clean energy and create jobs.”

A groundbreaking for the Paulsboro Wind Port took place in September.

“The EDA investment will provide the wastewater treatment capacity necessary for the development of a new manufacturing facility for offshore wind turbine components,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement announcing the grant.

Learning curve

The momentum is also being seen on the education side with a variety of programs and partnerships in the works to begin training the workforce needed to fuel the rise of this new sector.

Rowan University received federal funding for a wind power workforce development program. There is also an agreement signed between Salem County Vocational Technical School and the NJEDA to expand the school’s offshore wind-related painting and welding programs.

“Our partnership with [Rowan University, Rutgers University, Montclair State University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology] will ensure that the Garden State’s offshore wind sector is best positioned for growth and industry leadership,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.
Recently, the NJEDA announced plans to provide more than $1 million to Rowan University, Rutgers University, Montclair State University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology to advance academic research and investment in offshore wind workforce training. The schools will also support an expected 24 fellowships to help further offshore wind development in New Jersey.

“Our partnership with these four leading New Jersey research institutions will ensure that the Garden State’s offshore wind sector is best positioned for growth and industry leadership,” said Sullivan. “The Governor’s allocation for the NJ Wind Institute for Innovation and Training in the upcoming budget serves as a testament to the state’s commitment to accelerating economic growth, meeting our clean energy goals, and investing in a robust, diverse, and experienced workforce.”

“These initiatives will allow us to capitalize on one of New Jersey’s greatest assets – its research universities – to build a pipeline of industry experts in the offshore wind sector,” said Jen Becker, the NJEDA’s managing director of wind institute development. “This pool of trained talent will be a vital resource as New Jersey continues on its path toward becoming a global leader in this high-growth industry.”

“Higher education must adapt quickly to not only meet the needs of this generation, but the generations to follow,” said Rowan University President Ali Houshmand. “Investing in sustainability education through our partnership with NJEDA and the NJ Wind Institute ensures that Rowan University students and our faculty can play a prominent role in reshaping the future of our state and planet.”

The NJEDA has also been collaborating with Salem County stakeholders to support access to this industry for local residents and small businesses.

So, while no wind turbines have actually been constructed or installed off the Jersey coast, work is moving rapidly. “With the current global upheavals in the energy markets due to Russia’s invasion and war against Ukraine, achieving energy independence has taken on new importance,” Murphy said during the recent ReNew Jersey Summit in Atlantic City. “Maximizing our ability to tap into our coastal winds to generate the power to light homes and businesses has never meant so much.

“Wind energy is one of several industry sectors we are setting up practically from scratch, along with film and television production, sports betting, and adult-use cannabis.”