Ørsted offering $1.5M program with NJIT, if it gets OK for new wind farm

Daniel J. Munoz//May 28, 2021

Ørsted offering $1.5M program with NJIT, if it gets OK for new wind farm

Daniel J. Munoz//May 28, 2021

Danish offshore wind company Ørsted said it’s creating a $1.5 million scholarship and job-training program with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, but with one catch: The state has to approve its second bid for a sprawling wind farm off the Jersey Shore.

Ørsted is currently in the midst of developing the 1,100 megawatt Ocean Wind project nearly 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. It estimates that once completed, the project will be able to power hundreds of thousands of homes across the area.

State utility regulators with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities are fielding two applications, so far, for a second wind farm: Ørsted is seeking developer rights, as is Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables.

Should the NJBPU choose Ørsted, then the $1.5 million program through NJIT would go live. It would last 10 years and create “scholarship and career development opportunities in the field of offshore wind,” reads a May 27 statement from Ørsted North America.

Undergraduate students pursuing fields related to Ørsted’s IT operations – electrical and computer engineering, information technology, computer or data science – could receive a scholarship. And NJIT program participants would be able to take part in co-ops, internships and job opportunities from Ørsted.

“This agreement marks the beginning of a promising partnership that opens dynamic new opportunities for our hardworking and high-achieving students with one of the world’s leading developers of renewable energy projects,” NJIT President Joel Bloom said in the May 27 statement.

But the NJIT-Ørsted agreement “is contingent upon Ørsted receiving an award from the [NJBPU] for its Ocean Wind 2 project,” the statement reads.

NJBPU officials declined to comment for this story, while representatives for the Atlantic Shores project could not be reached for comment.

State officials are eyeing the offshore wind and clean energy industry as key economic sectors for the state’s post-COVID economic recovery. Gov. Phil Murphy’s goals call for the availability of 7.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by the year 2035.

And with the White House backing clean energy goals across the nation, New Jersey environmentalists and clean energy insiders say they’re confident the industry can explode in the coming years.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said March 29 that it is fast-tracking the permitting process for Ørsted’s Ocean Wind project.

In addition to the offshore wind farms, the state is moving ahead with a 200-acre “wind port” in Salem County, from which the state would ship out wind turbine components to the rest of the country. And the state is pushing through a $250 million manufacturing facility for the wind turbines, based in Camden County along the Delaware River.