Construction Begins for NJ Wind Farm
Danish energy developer Ørsted has announced that onshore construction for New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm has recently begun, as workers install copper and aluminum cables for the farm’s electric grid.
According to a report from nj.com, the announcement marks the first-ever construction effort for the Ocean Wind 1 project and is expected to help bring the Jersey Shore closer to the planned offshore construction for the project.
About the Construction
The report states that construction began in Lacey Township and will move to Island Beach State Park in the next week. Crews are now reportedly working to connect the electric grid at two substations, located in former power plants in Ocean and Cape May Counties.
The company will reportedly begin installing the cables at a parking lot near the state park. The cables will reportedly be mostly buried except, for overhead lines to connect to the stations at both sites.
Construction for N.J.’s 1st ocean wind farm begins onshore. Here’s what to expect. https://t.co/vSNqO2kJzo— The Star-Ledger (@starledger) October 6, 2023
Ocean Wind 1 is expected to have up to 98 offshore wind turbines that stand just over 850 feet tall, as well as three onshore substations. The offshore wind farm is expected to have a leasing area of about 15 miles from the coasts of Cape May and Atlantic Counties.
The report adds that the turbines should have the capacity to generate about 1,100 megawatts of clean energy. This much energy, the report states, should be enough to power about 500,000 homes and contribute to the state’s goal of generating 11,000 megawatts of usage by 2040.
Company officials have also said that they began the work after a Construction and Operations Plan was approved by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Sept. 21.
Project managers with Ørsted have stated that Shore Road next to Island Beach State Park will remain open during the work, though it will be limited to one lane by a construction zone at one point.
Fences are also planned for installation around the property, and steel plates will reportedly cover the streetscape while workers are away and overnight guards will be monitoring the area. Parts of the road and parking lot will reportedly be restored if damaged during the cable installation.
A spokesperson for the company also stated that before offshore construction begins, Ocean Wind 1 will need additional, final federal authorizations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as several state and local construction permits.
Work at the state park will reportedly run from September 2023 to May 2024 before beginning again the following September so as to not disturb summer tourism, according to officials with Ørsted.
Ørsted stated during a virtual public information session that additional offshore construction for the turbines is set to begin between April and June 2024.
Additionally, the report states that construction of an onshore export cable in Lacey Township will take place in different stages through August 2024.
According to the report, the project is one of at least two New Jersey projects Ørsted is leading.
Advancements on Ocean Wind 1 reportedly came one week after a poll from Stockton University, in New Jersey, indicated that public support for offshore wind turbines in the state appeared to be dropping.
According to survey respondents, reasons for people's opposition included “the unfounded scientific link between wind development and marine mammal deaths,” fear that Jersey Shore opinions could be affected by turbine blades and hesitation since the project work is close to completed.
The project has reportedly been a hot topic of discussion in politics, lawsuits and debate over economic viability. Local groups in the Jersey Shore area have also reportedly continued to try and convince developers to cancel the offshore wind work.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, however, has previously supported the projects and Ørsted officials have stated that they are aware of the many concerns as they begin the construction phase.
According to the report, BOEM stated that serious harm would not come to marine mammals as a result of the project. Additionally, the report states that Federal regulations demand work stoppages under certain conditions and vessel speed restrictions to reduce the effects on marine life.
Cable routes have reportedly been chosen after consulting with federal agencies on where the least impacts on marine life would be, Katharine Perry, permit manager for Ocean Wind 1, said.
“We are required and will be establishing a compensatory mitigation fund to offset the loss of any impact that the project could have on the fishing industry,” Perry stated.
Additionally, Ørsted leadership told investors in August that problems in things like the supply chain may cause it to write off more than $2.2 billion in losses and could end in it leaving the Jersey Shore and East Coast development projects.
Spokespeople for Ørsted said that federal permit setbacks were made worse by other factors like supply chain hurdles and high interest rates.
However, Ørsted officials said in a statement that while delayed for about two years, Ocean Wind 1′s offshore turbines were still on track to be in commercial operation between 2025 and 2026.
That timeline, according to the report, is subject to change and it is still unclear when turbines will be fully up and running.
In September 2021, offshore wind joint development partners Ørsted and Eversource announced the commencement of the first-ever American-built offshore wind substation.
The substation was to be designed and constructed by offshore fabricator Kiewit Offshore Services, Ltd. and later deployed at the developer’s South Fork Wind project—New York’s first offshore wind farm.
According to a press release issued by South Fork Wind, the 1,500-ton, 60-foot-tall substation was built at Kiewit’s facility in Ingleside, Texas. In total, the substation is capable of generating 132 megawatts and consists of a topside resting on a mono-pile foundation.
The substation was meant to collect the power produced by wind turbines and connect the clean energy to the grid.
Kiewit was reportedly the first American contractor to fabricate a wind farm’s offshore substation.
Then, at the beginning of 2022, South Fork Wind received the final approval needed for the project to move forward with the start of construction. The project’s Construction and Operations Plan (COP) was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, following the DOI’s Record of Decision in November and a BOEM environmental review.
The COP outlined the project’s one nautical mile turbine spacing, requirements on the construction methodology for the work occurring in federal waters and mitigation measures to protect marine habitats and species.
According to the release, the wind farm was expected to kickstart New York’s offshore wind industry and power approximately 70,000 homes with clean, offshore wind energy by 2023.
Throughout the design and construction phases of the projects, Kiewit reported that it would be employing more than 350 fabrication workers from Ingleside, Houston and Kansas. In addition, the company planned to hire hundreds of union workers in the Northeast to support the project, as well as other initiatives in the region.
Construction on the substation was slated to begin in November of 2022, with a competition date eyed for spring 2023. Then, crews intended to transport the substation across the Gulf of Mexico and up the East Coast for installation at the South Fork Wind site this summer.
To install the duct bank system, South Fork Wind tapped Long Island-based contractor Haugland Energy Group LLC (an affiliate of Haugland Group LLC). The contractor led the construction of the onshore interconnection facility in East Hampton, New York, and reportedly created more than 1—union jobs for Long Island skilled trades workers.
The project sourced construction labor from local union hiring halls, ensuring local union labor’s participation in all phases of construction on the project.
Offshore installation of the monopile foundations and wind turbines was expected to begin this summer.