Alternative energy sources are the requirement for the future. We can only hope that positive leadership actions such as this aren’t vetoed by an administration that would like to keep progressive plans as a thing of the past.
New Jersey aims to lead nation in offshore wind. So it’s building the biggest turbine port in the country.
Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said his state will build the country’s first port dedicated to assembling the turbines that will go up not just in New Jersey but across the Eastern Seaboard.
For New Jersey, it is about more than just tackling climate change. Just as Texas is the de facto capital of the U.S. oil and gas industry, New Jersey wants to be an economic engine for offshore wind.
“We have a huge opportunity,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. “Somebody’s going to get to be the Houston of American offshore wind.”
To make sure New Jersey plays that role, the state government is planning to turn 30 acres along the Eastern Shore of the Delaware River 20 miles south of Wilmington, Del., into a staging area for assembling the massive turbines. Taller than 800 feet, the turbines will tower higher than the Washington Monument.
State leaders are also hoping to coax factories to the rural area, too, and have set aside 25 acres for potential turbine part manufacturers. They aim to start construction next year and launch operations by 2024. Another 160 acres will be available for future development.
“We’ll be able to be the focal point for the industry in this part of the country,” Murphy said in an interview.
The port is part of the state’s broader plan to get all of its electricity from clean energy by the middle of the century. New Jersey, already one of the nation’s fastest-warming places, wants to generate 7,500 megawatts from offshore wind by 2035 — enough to power half of New Jersey’s homes.
Murphy also has his sights on supplying Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, all of which have plans to build offshore wind generation along the Eastern Seaboard’s shallow waters.
“We want a significant piece of the supply chain in New Jersey,” Murphy said. “So we’re literally creating this industry from whole cloth.”The port, he added, “is a huge step in that direction.”The South Jersey site — named Artificial Island after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created it around 1900 — checks off a number of boxes for politicians and engineers.It is five miles from the nearest residential area. It is already home to three nuclear reactors — run by Public Service Enterprise Group, an energy company based in Newark — to provide electricity.And crucially, there are no bridges between it and the open ocean. That is important because after being assembled, the turbines are often stood upright and moved into place by ship.The Murphy administration expects the port to employ 1,500 workers and cost up to $400 million to complete, with taxpayers and companies splitting the bill.The city of New Bedford, Mass., has a 28-acre turbine-assembly area. But it does not have the space New Jersey has to host manufacturing plants, Murphy’s office said. New York, too, is looking to invest up to $200 million to upgrade ports for offshore wind.Dan Reicher, who ran the Energy Department’s renewable energy office under Bill Clinton and is not involved in the New Jersey project, said Murphy’s plan is “a serious shot in the arm at a very difficult moment” as the country confronts both climate change and covid-19.The offshore energy industry also welcomed Murphy’s announcement.“This is a smart move by New Jersey” said Erik Milito, head of the National Ocean Industries Association. “Conservatively, the Atlantic offshore wind industry is estimated to deliver a $70 billion supply chain this decade alone. But the East Coast needs improved port facilities to maximize the full benefits of offshore wind.”