New Jersey: A Model For Clean Energy

New Jersey is proposing a win-win solution to accelerate economic growth and job opportunities while combating the climate crisis: investing in the clean energy industry, especially offshore wind and solar. The State has pledged to be 100 percent clean energy powered by 2050, but strides taken make New Jersey a clean energy leader now, an ambitious goal supported by the Climate Reality Project

Ken Berlin, President and CEO, said “the country should follow New Jersey’s lead and make a bold, national commitment to zero-carbon energy and provide the investments needed to make it happen. Before the COVID-19 crisis, solar installer and wind energy technician were the two fastest-growing careers in the country. When the healthcare crisis ends, a nationwide plan mirroring New Jersey’s commitment could create millions of clean energy and energy efficiency jobs to jumpstart the nation’s economic recovery.”

So what has New Jersey done to catch the attention of businesses, entrepreneurs, economists and environmentalists alike?

The U.S. capital of offshore wind

New Jersey is taking advantage of its strategic location along the Atlantic Coast lease areas to support major offshore wind initiatives. The state made headlines in 2019 with the announcement of Ocean Wind, the largest offshore wind project in the U.S. to date. Set 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, the $1.6 billion Ocean Wind project was the first offshore wind farm approved by the State and will be developed through a partnership between PSEG and Ørsted. At 1,100-megawatts the project will help the state achieve its goal of producing 7,500 megawatts of wind energy by 2035. 

PSEG, New Jersey’s largest utility provider, has made major investments in connecting offshore wind farms to the state’s electric grid. “New Jersey is a leader in driving the clean energy economy and PSEG is proud to support the state each step of the way,” said Ralph LaRossa, Chief Operating Officer, PSEG. “PSEG aims to power a future where people use less energy, and it’s cleaner, safer and delivered more reliably than ever. From manufacturing and development to engineering and construction, offshore wind energy is a tremendous opportunity to foster growth and bring clean energy to our region. PSEG is proud of our track record of supporting New Jersey with transmission, delivery and generation expertise and we look forward to continuing to help the state grow its offshore wind expertise, labor force and supply chain.”

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilizes (NJBPU) approved a second solicitation in June 2021 with the nation’s largest combined offshore wind award to EDF/Shell’s Atlantic Shores and Ørsted’s Ocean Wind II. With 2,658 MW of offshore wind capacity planned, these projects will bring the State’s total capacity to over 3,700 MW.

To build up the offshore wind supply chain, Ørsted, PSEG and German steel pipe manufacturer EEW announced the groundbreaking of the EEW monopile manufacturing facility in September 2021. Located at the Port of Paulsboro Marine Terminal in Gloucester County, it will be the largest industrial offshore wind manufacturing facility in the U.S. once completed. EEW’s facility will create as many as 260 jobs during the first phase of construction and manufacturing. The facility is a key asset for the State and will serve the rapidly progressing U.S. offshore wind industry for years to come. 

In June 2020, Governor Murphy announced a once-in-a-generation $300-400 million investment in the New Jersey Wind Port – the first purpose-built offshore wind marshaling port in the U.S.  Spread across 200-acres in Salem County’s Lower Alloways Creek Township, it will be an East Coast hub for staging, assembly, and manufacturing for offshore wind projects. The future location of the port is a unicorn of sorts: it has the right physical characteristics for near-immediate development while also being away from other traditional elements of infrastructure such as electrical wiring, residential homes, and major bridges.

The New Jersey Wind Port will create over a thousand jobs for both the manufacturing and construction sectors of the State. Phase one is underway with a 30-acre site being developed for marshaling activities and a 25-acre element set for component manufacturing. For phase two, the additional 150 acres will further build out vast manufacturing facilities, where turbine parts such as blades and nacelles will be produced. 

For companies that are interested in supplying components and services as part of the New Jersey Wind Port, Choose New Jersey recommends they publicly indicate their interest by utilizing New Jersey’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain Registry. There are also energy sales tax exemptions for manufacturers to develop clean energy technologies within Salem County, as well as additional incentives provided by other state departments and utility suppliers.

New Jersey also offers an Offshore Wind Tax Credit Program to incentivize further development. The program provides reimbursement for capital investments in facilities in southern New Jersey. These incentives and upcoming projects are driving excitement in South Jersey as a burgeoning industry emerges.

Generating Jobs and Education for Clean Energy

While the State of New Jersey and global clean energy companies are investing in monumental projects, there’s also a need to create a local workforce pipeline to support this emerging industry and foster innovation.  Many different initiatives are taking place across the state to help push the clean energy industry forward and build the foundation for the next generation.

Ørsted Doubles Down on New Jersey

Ørsted is deepening its commitment to the State by partnering with New Jersey universities for research and workforce development. Ørsted will be collaborating with Rowan University for potential offshore wind research opportunities and providing engineering clinics for students. Furthermore, Ørsted awarded $200,000 to Montclair State University’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center. The funding will be applied to the advancement of energy research as well as education opportunities for university students and STEM programs for younger students. Stockton University and Rutgers University have also signed MOUs with Ørsted, signaling that the company is invested in local sustainability and building New Jersey’s workforce pipeline.

In May 2021, Ørsted announced the opening of its North American Digital Operations headquarters in Newark. The new office will employ more than 20 Ørsted staff members, including 12-14 new IT positions the company hopes to fill in 2021. The company’s headcount has the potential to more than double over the next several years, based on Ørsted’s offshore and onshore growth in the U.S.

Offshore Wind Workforce Development

To support the growth of the emerging offshore wind industry, Atlantic Cape Community College broke ground in 2021 on a 1,700-square-foot Wind Training Center at the Worthington Atlantic City campus as part of a nearly $3 million state grant. The Wind Training Center is funded by the New Jersey Offshore Wind Safety Training Challenge grant, administered by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education with the support of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The college will establish an industry-recognized Global Wind Organization (GWO) safety training program and facility to prepare New Jersey workers for jobs in the state’s green economy.

In 2022, Rowan University received a $500,000 check for a federal workforce training grant that will be used to prepare students for New Jersey’s wind power industry. The Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering will first use the grant to develop specialized wind energy certificates for students enrolled in “2+2” engineering technology degree programs offered in partnership with Rowan College of South Jersey. Eventually, Rowan’s wind power program will push into research and graduate-level training.

New Jersey’s strong union construction labor pool will also be central in the development of the State’s renewable energy infrastructure. Both Ørsted and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind are creating partnerships with New Jersey’s labor unions like LiUNA! to prepare tradespeople to be involved in offshore wind industry work.

CleanTech Incubators Help Startups Get Their Footing

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, established the Ecocomplex Clean Energy Innovation Center to be a hub for cleantech, environmental research, and business incubation. Entrepreneurs have been working with the complex for almost two decades for technology concept assessments, testing and engineering support, permitting guidance, and business development and training. As with many incubators that are part of NJEDA’s NJ Ignite program, there are also outreach programs, networking meet-ups, and state of the art lab space to help startups scale.

Another NJ Ignite incubator that is leading the way for cleantech startups is Kearny Point. In 2019, it partnered with Cleantech Open and the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) to provide six clean technology startups with free office space.

“By building alliances with those committed to investing in a better, more equitable and sustainable world for future generations, this partnership with NECEC and Cleantech Open brings us a significant step closer to realizing our ultimate goal of addressing the myriad challenges facing our planet,” said Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Neu.

Hugo Neu is also partnering with Watchung-based Power Edison to build the nation’s largest EV charging hub in the U.S. The project will bring more than 200 high-power fast chargers within 10 minutes of the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal and New York City. New Jersey is currently investing in electric charging station infrastructure and emerging as a national leader in clean transportation. 

Renewable Energy Foundation is Strong for Solar

While the mandate is to get to 100% clean energy by 2050, New Jersey is also planning to be 50% renewable by 2030. The State has been an early adopter of solar power and continues to pass legislation and promote initiatives to encourage renewable energy use amongst residents and businesses. 

New Jersey is the only state that requires new construction projects to consider climate change impact. In 2012, legislation was passed to transform state landfills into massive solar farms, allowing the project to become a specialty for Edison-based company CS Energy. New Jersey is currently ranked #7 for the largest amount of solar capacity installed in the U.S. and is projected to grow. In 2021, New Jersey celebrated the completion of its first community solar project.

Let’s Discuss the Clean Energy Industry

New Jersey is committed to being a carbon neutral state by 2050. Will your company be a part of this goal? Choose New Jersey is a nonprofit economic development organization focused on bringing companies to the state while also providing support to startups. We work with companies from across the globe and have offices in New Jersey, India, and Europe. Contact us today to receive relocation and expansion services, economic development connections, and other complementary resources.

Originally published October 2020. This blog was updated March 2022 to include new developments in New Jersey’s offshore wind investment.

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