- National Grid is teaming up with German energy giant RWE to pursue wind power projects off the East Coast, according to an announcement on Friday.
- National Grid Ventures, the utility's non-regulated arm, and RWE, which has built offshore wind plants around the world, plan to kick off the partnership with a bid to build a wind power project in the New York Bight.
- The joint venture is just one of a number of big power industry players eyeing bids to develop wind power projects in the waters of the New York Bight, a stretch of ocean between Long Island and the New Jersey coast.
With the March announcement to open up a big tract of coastal waters off New York and New Jersey, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) sent a shot of adrenaline through the fast-developing offshore wind sector.
BOEM announced in late March it would begin the planning and regulatory process for an auction of wind power development leases in the New York Bight, a stretch of ocean that extends from Cape May in New Jersey to Montauk Point on the eastern tip of Long Island.
Federal regulators have reduced the initial area by more than half to a still-substantial 950 nautical square miles and 800,000 acres after accounting for commercial fishing interests, Department of Defense activities and other uses.
The New York Bight has the potential to supply to more than 9,800 MW, or enough power to light 3.4 million homes, according to BOEM.
The opening of the New York Bight, in turn, is crucial for New Jersey to meet its 2035 goals, said Brian Sabina, chief economic growth officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
"The release of new federal areas … is a huge shot in the arm for the industry," Sabina said.
The joint venture between National Grid and RWE, in turn, is a prime example of the impact the opening up of the New York Bight to wind power development has had on the booming sector, Sabina said.
In the announcement of their joint venture, National Grid Ventures, the unregulated division of the publicly-traded utility, and RWE, touted the "complementary" nature of their new partnership.
National Grid brings to the table its experience on major infrastructure projects in the Northeast, as well as its work on subsea cable capabilities used to funnel renewable energy between the U.K. and Europe, according to a press release.
RWE, in turn, says it has developed 20 offshore wind projects across the globe over the past two decades.
"We're very pleased to partner with RWE as we take our first steps towards developing offshore wind projects in the Northeast U.S.," said Cordi O'Hara, president of National Grid Ventures, in the release.
The upcoming auction of wind power development leases in the New York Bight will draw in big new players into the offshore wind market, Sabina said.
Logical candidates to submit bids include EnBW, which is building offshore wind turbines in Germany, as well as players that are already working in other offshore wind projects off the East Coast, including the Norwegian company Equinor, the Danish developer Ørsted, and Vineyard Wind, a joint venture with Avangrid's non-regulated division, according to Sabina.
“With the new lease areas, there will be a new set of opportunities for a new set of entrants,” Sabina said. “There is a huge opportunity for them to enter the market.”
While dates for the auction have not yet been ironed out, the bidding is expected to take place later this year or early next.
“New York State expects a robust response” to the upcoming auction, a spokesperson for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said in an email. “The new lease areas … will help ensure adequate resources and development areas are available to help New York meet its nation-leading goal of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035.”