Statoil is building a huge wind farm off New York’s Jones Beach. Last December the Norwegian energy major was declared the provisional winner of the U.S. government’s wind lease sale of 79,350 acres offshore New York.
Statoil subsidiary Statoil Wind US LLC will pay out $42 million for provisional rights to develop wind energy off New York — by far the biggest play yet for a wind lease in U.S. waters. The project aims to provide clean electricity to New York City and Long Island. Statoil said it submitted the winning bid during the online offshore wind auction concluded Dec. 16 last year by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
Statoil must pass federal agency reviews before it can open a one-year preliminary lease — and a hearing in U.S. District Court, where a Feb. 8 date has been set to hear commercial fishermen’s motion for an injunction against the lease.
Winds off the coasts of the United States are so dependably strong that turbines built offshore could produce four times the amount of electricity that’s currently generated from all sources in the country. Located 11.5 miles south of Jones Beach, N.Y., on Long Island, the New York Wind Energy Area is a triangle of 79,350 acres on the sea floor, wedged between two busy shipping lanes for New York Harbor, covering water depths between 65 and 131 feet.
The lease comprises an area that could potentially accommodate more than 1 GW of offshore wind, with a phased development expected to start with 400-600 MW.
“We are excited to have submitted the most competitive bid in a highly attractive project, Statoil’s first offshore wind lease in the United States. We now look forward to working with New York’s state agencies and contributing to New York meeting its future energy needs by applying our offshore experience and engineering expertise,” said Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil´s executive vice president for New Energy Solutions.
“We will work closely with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) on these studies and throughout the permitting process, and in connection with power offtake options,” Rummelhoff added.
“We have seen robust competitive interest for this auction, as evidenced by 33 rounds of bidding — the most we have seen for any of our lease sales to date,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in announcing the sale. “BOEM will continue to work with the members of out New York Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force and the public on any future wind energy project proposed for this lease area.”
The $42 million commitment from Statoil is more than twice the $16 million BOEM has brought in so far with leasing one million acres for wind energy development in previous sales.
“The US is a key emerging market for offshore wind – both bottom-fixed and floating – with significant potential along both the east and west coasts. As today’s announcement shows, Statoil is well positioned to take part in what could be a significant build out of offshore wind in New York and other states over the next decade. This effort is in line with the company’s strategy to gradually complement our oil and gas portfolio with viable renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions,” said Rummelhoff.
Before Statoil can begin construction, the firm plans to survey the waters. It’s unclear how many turbines the project will include. By 2030, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) wants to get half of the state’s electricity from zero-emissions sources.
The U.S. produces roughly 75 gigawatts of wind energy already, almost all of which comes from land-based turbines in windswept states like Texas, California and Iowa. But offshore wind, popular in Western Europe, has failed to take off until last year.
Last December, the first offshore wind farm in North America ― a five-turbine operation abutting Rhode Island’s vacation hub Block Island ― began producing electricity. The project, which took seven years to complete, marked a historic turning point for a long-stalled subsector of the renewable energy industry.
Statoil is the fossil fuel cash cow that made Norway the world’s seventh richest country. In Europe, Statoil is developing an offshore wind portfolio. Statoil currently holds a 40% share in the Sheringham Shoal wind farm in the United Kingdom, which has been in production since 2012. The Dudgeon offshore wind farm, also located offshore Norfolk in the UK – and the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, Hywind Scotland – will come into production in 2017. Last year, Statoil acquired 50% of the Arkona offshore wind farm in Germany, which will come into production in 2019.
Statoil is an integrated, technology-based international energy company primarily focused on upstream oil and gas operations. Statoil’s Energy Ventures Fund, launched in February 2016, is one of the world’s largest clean technology venture capital funds, dedicated to the successful advancement of viable renewable energy projects.
Like Statoil, DONG (Danish Oil and Natural Gas) is a major player in the North Sea wind turbine industry, and is taking an avid interest in the U.S. market. DONG has acquired lease rights to areas offshore of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and New Jersey.
Europe added 114 commercial offshore wind turbines in the first six months of 2016 alone. Last year, nearly 1 out of every 3 new turbines built in Europe went offshore, according to The Guardian.
Feature image (on top): Jones Beach by The Generator Judge
Norway’s Top Oil Company Will Provide New York with Renewable Energy, written by Tor Kjolberg