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New York Completes First Utility-Scale Offshore Wind Farm in the U.S.

offshore wind farm
The U.S.'s first large offshore wind farm has completed construction (Orsted)

Published Mar 14, 2024 4:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Elected officials in New York State joined with industry leaders and Ørsted and its partners to mark the completed construction of South Fork Wind. The 132 MW project is considered to be the United States’ first commercial-scale offshore wind farm. The offshore work was completed in approximately nine months with 12 turbines and is being hailed as a symbol of what is going to be coming to the U.S. clean energy industry.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate the completion of the South Fork project,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “Today is further proof that America’s clean energy transition is not a dream for a distant future – it’s happening right here and now.”

With all 12 of South Fork Wind’s turbines installed, the wind farm is delivering power to the local Long Island electric grid while commissioning is in its final stage. At full capacity, the wind farm, which is located roughly 35 miles off the coast of Montauk at the eastern tip of Long Island will generate enough renewable energy to power approximately 70,000 homes and will eliminate up to six million tons of carbon emissions over the 20-year life of the project.?

First approved by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) Board of Trustees in 2017, South Fork Wind began construction in February 2022, beginning with the onshore export cable system that links the project to the Long Island electric grid. The wind farm reached its “steel in the water” in June 2023 with the installation of the project’s first monopile foundation, and its final turbine was installed in February.?

The project was supported from Ørsted and Eversource’s fabrication hub at ProvPort, in Rhode Island. Its crew vessels and crew change helicopter are based out of Quonset Point, Rhode Island, helping to establish the wind port and support facilities for the industry.

The project was less impacted by the pressures that emerged in the industry as it was already underway and had lined up the supply chain. However, one of the two partners, Eversource has already agreed to sell its stake in the project to private investors. Eversource Energy, the operator of New England’s largest energy delivery system, reported that it decided to exit the offshore wind sector to focus on its operations as a regulated transmission builder and operator. In addition to South Fork, it invested in the planned Revolution Wind site that will power Connecticut and Rhode Island. 

Eversource has agreed to sell all its offshore wind portfolio to Global Infrastructure Partners, which in turn is being acquired by BlackRock, one of the world’s largest private asset managers. The deal demonstrates the growing interest from the private investment sector for wind power assets and Eversource expects to realize $1.1 billion of cash proceeds for the deal.

Onshore the U.S. has developed a wind energy portfolio but only Block Island Wind completed in 2016 has been built so far offshore. It was a small project consisting of five turbines and 30 MW capacity. South Fork becomes the largest offshore wind project completed in the U.S. but Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners have construction underway on the larger 806 MW Vineyard Wind, which began generating its first power at the beginning of the year.

The U.S. offshore wind sector is now moving into the construction phase. Several projects, including Dominion’s wind farm off the coast of Virginia, are due to begin construction this year. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management also highlights that it is moving forward with the review process for more projects toward the U.S. goal of 30 GW of offshore energy by 2030.