Study identifies key issues for New York’s efforts to develop offshore wind energy

A new study by the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW) for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers a roadmap of key strategic steps that New York can take to reduce costs of offshore wind power over the next decade.

The study finds that ongoing technology and industry advances combined with actions New York could take, independently or with other states, could lower costs for offshore wind power as much as 50% and bring this power generating source closer to realizing its potential for “delivering utility-scale renewable electric generation” to New York City and nearby areas such as Long Island.  

A primary conclusion from the report is that supporting offshore wind development at scale, rather than on a project-by-project basis, could have the greatest impact on reducing costs. Other actions the report cites that could lower costs include creating and using innovative financing mechanisms, developing infrastructure to reduce costs, and supporting site characterization for early projects to reduce development expenses and risk.

The study notes that while onshore wind development has expanded rapidly in the U.S., no operational offshore wind power projects have been completed to date due to complex construction challenges and the need for operational infrastructure that doesn’t exist today in the U.S. These factors lead to high costs and have delayed deployment, said the university in a March 10 statement about the study.

The study identifies multiple paths for reducing offshore wind power costs in New York State, emphasizing that the “State can take actions in the near term to lower its costs substantially, independent of expected external reductions over the next decade.” The study finds that taking advantage of wind turbine innovations and other technology and industry advances could lower costs about 20%. Direct steps taken by New York State could contribute up to an additional 30% reduction in a project’s cost.

“Well-designed policies and actions taken by New York, as well as by other states, can play an essential role in helping New York City and other U.S. East Coast population centers benefit from gigawatts of clean energy that could be generated by deploying wind turbines off the Atlantic coast,” said Stephanie McClellan, Director, SIOW. McClellan is presenting the report’s findings at the March 10-12 “Offshore 2015” conference, the world’s largest annual offshore wind energy gathering held by the European Wind Energy Association in Denmark.

“In Europe, advanced offshore wind turbines are already in the water and powering the grid today,” said McClellan. “The U.S. can take advantage of innovations and cost efficiencies that have already been developed in Germany, Denmark, and elsewhere. The key for U.S. states is to send clear signals to the markets and begin implementing these steps now to help make offshore wind more competitive with other sources of electricity.” 

A significant benefit of offshore wind power is its proximity to the New York City metropolitan area. Offshore wind has the potential to dramatically increase the percentage of clean energy used within New York City, the largest power consumer in the state of New York, adding systems benefits to the electric grid while reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.

“New York State is laying the groundwork to bring closer the potential of large-scale development of offshore wind and accelerate the cost savings we expect can be achieved through identified actions,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO of NYSERDA. “As cost-reduction within the offshore wind sector occurs, and as we develop approaches whether independently or in collaboration with other states to integrating the value of this renewable resource, offshore wind has the potential to support the State’s energy goals under Governor [Andrew] Cuomo. While offering the promise of a vast renewable energy resource for the state’s most populous region, it will also bring with it economic development, job creation, and a cleaner environment.”

Promoting greater deployment of renewable energy such as offshore wind is a central part of Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan, a bold initiative that addresses critical energy challenges and infrastructure needs.

The New York Power Authority, through a collaborative effort with Consolidated Edison Co. of New York and the Long Island Power Authority, has applied for a lease from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop offshore wind off Long Island. 

The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW) is an affiliated program at the University of Delaware’s (UD) College of Earth, Ocean & Environment (CEOE) that supports offshore wind power (OSW) as part of a comprehensive U.S. energy solution, offering expertise, analysis, information sharing, and strategic partnership to build understanding and drive deployment.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.