Ørsted gets federal approval for construction and operation of 1.1-GW New Jersey offshore wind farm

Source: By Diana DiGangi, Utility Dive • Posted: Thursday, July 6, 2023

Dive Brief:

  • The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday announced it has approved plans for constructing and operating Ocean Wind 1, a 1.1-GW wind project offshore of New Jersey.
  • The project is being developed by Danish energy company Ørsted, which said in a release that the approval keeps the company on track to start onshore construction this fall, begin offshore construction in 2024, and start commercial operations in 2025.
  • Ocean Wind 1 is the third commercial-scale offshore wind project to get final approval from the Biden administration, following Vineyard Wind offshore Massachusetts and South Fork Wind offshore Rhode Island and New York.

Dive Insight:

“Ocean Wind 1 is on the cusp of making history as construction on New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm is set to begin in a few short months, delivering on the promise of good-paying jobs, local investment and clean energy,” said David Hardy, group executive vice president and CEO Americas at Ørsted, in the company’s release.

Ørsted called BOEM’s decision a “major milestone” in the federal environmental review process.

BOEM approved Ørsted’s plan to construct up to 98 wind turbines and three offshore substations within the lease area it was assigned in 2021, according to the Record of Decision issued Wednesday.

In the decision, BOEM says that it has been evaluating Ocean Wind 1’s Construction and Operations Plan on both an environmental and technical basis since the document was first submitted in 2019, and settled on approving the 98-turbine, three-substation plan from a list of other potential approaches.

The approach approved by BOEM will provide at least a 0.81 nautical mile buffer between the Ocean Wind 1 wind turbines and the turbines for nearby offshore wind project Atlantic Shores South, the decision says. The buffer is designed to “minimize impacts to navigation and vessel traffic and commercial and recreational fishing.” 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in Wednesday’s announcement that the administration is working with state and local leaders, tribes, and other ocean users in order to develop clean energy while “mitigating potential impacts on the environment or marine life.”

Like other commercial-scale offshore wind projects in development, Ocean Wind 1 has faced criticism and lawsuits opposing its construction. On June 8, three groupsfiled suit in the Appellate Divsion of New Jersey’s Superior Court seeking to overturn the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s sign-off on the project.

The activist groups Save LBI, Defend Brigantine Beach and Protect Our Coast NJ argue in the appeal that the project will “hasten the decline of marine species and destroy large parts of the seafloor by compression and hardening.”