Offshore wind has many opportunities for the state of New Jersey, both in meeting our clean energy goals as well as spurring economic development, according to Kris Ohleth, executive director of The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind.
Ohleth presented on the importance of offshore wind development during NJBIA’s Oct. 22 summit, “Energy & Decarbonization: A Business Perspective,” at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, and discussed the many opportunities for the Garden State in the sector.
“[Nationally], there is enough lease area out there now … to build … 35 or so gigawatts of offshore wind, beating our national target of 30 gigawatts,” she said. “Currently, we have 42 megawatts of offshore wind spinning in the U.S., so we have a lot of work to do.”
Two such lease areas that are let off the coast of New Jersey are the Atlantic shores area and the Ørstead lease area, which she said could supply 7.5 gigawatts, New Jersey’s state goal, by 2035 alone.
In addition to the energy generation itself, Ohleth stressed that it’s important for New Jersey to be part of the supply chain as the manufacturing of components such as foundations, turbines and transmission cables could bring big business to the state’s economy.
“We just released a study last week showing $109 billion in economic opportunity by the year 2030. It’s a jump ball, we don’t know what state is going to get this money, who’s going to get this revenue in the door,” Ohleth said.
As an example, Ohleth mentioned that the first U.S. plant to manufacture offshore wind transmission cables, located in South Carolina, is looking for another location – and she’d love that new location to be in New Jersey, she said.
“They are exporting cable to Europe. We can be an exporter of this technology, of this supply chain,” she said. “That gets me excited. We’re not just delivering on 30 gigawatts, we’re delivering on a truly global supply chain if we’re developing it here in the U.S.”
But despite the opportunities, Ohleth outlined challenges that must be overcome as well, including stakeholder concerns.
“People don’t know what offshore wind is yet. It’s a little sci-fi, it’s like Star Wars,” she said. “Meanwhile, 35 years ago, the first offshore wind farms were developed in Europe so this is a founded technology, one we know that works, so it’s not Star Wars.
“Unless you like Star Wars. Then it could be like Star Wars.”
The Special Initiative for Offshore Wind is an independent organization housed within the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment. SIOW generates research and serves as a catalyst for multi-sector collaboration to drive the sustainable development of offshore wind power.