Image courtesy of Atlantic Offshore Terminals

One City, Two Offshore Wind Hubs, 9000 Megawatts

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First it was Brooklyn. Now it’s Staten Island. Two different New York City boroughs are set to host new hubs for offshore wind farms, and both are claiming to be among the largest in the US. The two new hubs are further evidence that that US offshore wind industry is already back on its feet, despite the interfering fingers of fossil energy stakeholders and a series of other stumbling blocks.

New Offshore Wind Hub For Staten Island

Starting with the most recent news first, the new Staten Island offshore wind hub is called Arthur Kill Terminal. The project will sit on 32 acres on the west shore of Staten Island abutting the Arthur Kill, a waterway that separates the borough from New Jersey. Its planned 1-gigawatt capacity will reportedly make it the biggest privately-owned wind hub in the US.

The project comes under the umbrella of Atlantic Offshore Terminals, an infrastructure and industrial real estate development startup that launched in 2018. AOT describes its core business as focusing like a laser on the “rapidly progressing US offshore wind industry.”

That’s an optimistic take, considering that the rapid progress almost evaporated just last year after a series of cancellations brought several offshore projects along the Atlantic coast to a screeching halt. Aside from the fossil energy interests at work, supply chain issues, inflation, and other nuts-and-bolts factors were in play. However, that was then. New York is back on its feet with new offshore projects, and neighboring New Jersey is among the other states resetting their offshore agenda as well.

Follow The Money

Temporary setback aside, anyone who pronounced the death of the US offshore wind industry last year was not following the money trail. In July of 2021, the alternative asset manager Apollo Global Management announced it nailed down an agreement for investing in the Arthur Kill Terminal. The A-list firm had about $461 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2021.

“The Arthur Kill Terminal development aligns with Apollo’s expertise in renewable energy infrastructure and with the Firm’s longstanding commitment to strong environmental, social and governance principles,” Apollo stated in a press release dated July 15, 2021.

Apollo also cited New York State’s target of 9,000 megawatts’ worth of offshore wind, part of a juicy East coast market that no investor would want to give up easily.

More Money For Staten Island

In the meantime, New York State’s economic development agency, Empire State Development, was adding its muscle to the wind hub effort. In 2022 the agency announced that it won a $48 million grant from the federal Department of Transportation in support of the project.

The Arthur Kill Terminal “represents an unparalleled opportunity to meet the urgent need for suitable offshore wind ports on the East Coast and will be an important asset for offshore wind as the only non-bridge restricted offshore wind staging and assembly port in New York State,” ESD stated, referring to the problem of transporting massive wind turbine components under bridges that were not designed for such work.

What’s Up With Floating Offshore Wind Turbines?

ESD also emphasized that Arthur Kill Terminal will accommodate next-generation offshore wind technologies, including floating offshore wind turbines and foundations.

The floating turbine angle is interesting because offshore wind sites in New York State and practically the entire East Coast are suitable for conventional fixed-platform construction. The water is shallow enough to park wind turbines on monopiles pounded into the ocean bed, so there is no need for the more delicate engineering feat of situating turbines on a floating platform.

Either AOT is already positioning itself in the supply chain for offshore wind sites in Maine that require floating wind technology, or the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is open to the idea of leasing offshore wind sites in deeper waters. Or…it could mean something else entirely.

Details on the project are a little thin at the moment. Apollo has not issued any new releases since the 2021 announcement, ESD has also been mum since 2022, and the project website for the Arthur Kill Terminal was still in the bare-bones stage as of this writing. If you can track anything else down, drop us a note in the comment thread.

In 2022, though, US Senator Chuck Schumer of New York did let word drop that the new wind hub would include a “1365-foot-long wharf with adjacent laydown area that has enhanced load bearing capacity.”

Another element consists of “a tenant area consisting of a 15,266 square-foot combined warehouse and office building and a project owner’s area consisting of a 4,200 square-foot office building.”

An Offshore Wind Hub For Brooklyn

Earlier this week, AOT posted a brief announcement on LinkedIn indicating that the project is moving through the pipeline, the latest milestone being approval from the New York City Planning Commission for “land use actions needed to facilitate the construction and operation of Arthur Kill Terminal.”

Meanwhile over in Brooklyn, the start of construction on the new South Brooklyn Marine Terminal was marked with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 10.

The project already has a client in the form of the 54-turbine, 810-gigawatt Empire I offshore wind farm, which comes under the umbrella of the firm Equinor.

After that, attention will turn to other opportunities. “When completed, the facility will be one of the largest dedicated offshore wind hubs in the United States, designed to accommodate future offshore wind projects,” Equinor explained in a press statement.

That most likely includes Empire Wind II, which will weigh in at 1,260 megawatts.

To ice the green cake, the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal is planned as a “low-emissions facility,” with an assist from solar power. EV charging stations are also part of the package.

Follow The Offshore Wind Money, Part II

The quick revival of offshore wind plans for the Atlantic coast is a poke in the eye of fossil energy stakeholders, some of which have reportedly lent a hand to local groups opposed to offshore wind.

In the early 2000s, it was possible for the opposition to squash offshore projects. However, renewable energy stakeholders have grown more financial muscle since then, and they are not afraid to throw their weight around.

Equinor, for example, describes itself as “a broad international energy company and one of the largest offshore wind developers in the world.” In addition to the 2 gigawatts’ worth of offshore wind represented by the Empire projects, Equinor has another 2.1 gigawatts planned for elsewhere in the US.

“The United States is an attractive growth market for Equinor,” the company adds, noting that its overall renewable energy plan anticipates a total capacity of 12-16 gigawatts globally, by 2030.

That’s just Equinor. Another wind industry stakeholder to keep an eye on is Ørsted, which is counting on 5 gigawatts of offshore wind along the US East coast. If you can name any others, drop us a note in the comment thread.

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Photo (cropped): Staten Island will host a new offshore wind hub, one of two key wind industry projects in the pipeline for New York City (courtesy of Atlantic Offshore Terminals).

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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