New Jersey: A Model For Clean Energy

As the United States economy seeks to address the new world order caused by COVID-19, New Jersey is proposing a solution to accelerate business growth and job opportunities – committing to the clean energy industry. 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 health care 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?

Offshore Wind Opportunities Blowing Away Investors

New Jersey is taking advantage of its key location along the Atlantic coast to support major offshore wind initiatives. The state made headlines last year with the announcement of the largest offshore wind project in the nation. 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, with multiple opportunities for further project developments still available. To help drive development, the state is also offering the Offshore Wind Tax Credit program, providing reimbursement for capital investments in facilities in southern New Jersey.

These incentives and upcoming projects are driving excitement in Atlantic City and helping to diversify its economy.  Investment real estate broker Christopher Popkin, who is based in nearby Absecon, NJ, sees high potential for the area’s growth.

“The wind turbines are projected to power half a million homes as well as create more than 3,000 construction jobs in the process of construction. Think about it, these specialized workers and engineers will need to live close by, eat at restaurants, shop at stores, etc. This is expected to bring billions of economic revenue to South Jersey. Not only will this company need construction workers, but when they’re finished they will need a team of engineers, workers, HR people, etc. to continually maintain the project… [t]his is exciting for people in my real estate field because the influx of workers will need a place to live, and I’ll be on the front lines of connecting buyers and renters with places to live.”

Amidst the economic challenges of COVID-19, New Jersey is also pushing forward with additional projects to stimulate the economy. In June, Governor Murphy announced the New Jersey Wind Port. The port will be the first of its kind in the United States dedicated to offshore wind. Spread across 200-acres in Salem County’s Lower Alloways Creek Township, it will be a hub for staging, assembly and manufacturing for offshore wind projects on the East Coast. 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 $300-$400 million investment will create over a thousand jobs for both the manufacturing and construction sectors of the state. Phase one is set to begin in 2021, 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 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.

Innovation Through Education and Incubation

While the State of New Jersey and major companies are investing in monumental projects, they’re also cognizant of the reality that innovation often comes from humble beginnings. 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

By selecting Ørsted as the developer of its initial offshore wind farm, New Jersey is teaming up with one of the foremost global leaders in renewable energy. The Danish company is deepening its commitment to the State by partnering with New Jersey universities for research and workforce development initiatives.. Ørsted will be collaborating with Rowan University for potential offshore wind research opportunities and well as providing engineering clinics for students. Ørsted awarded $200,000 to Montclair State University’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center, where 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 partnerships with Ørsted, signaling that the company is invested in local sustainability and building New Jersey’s workforce pipeline.

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 North East Clean Energy Council (NECEC) to provide six cleantech 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.

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 largest amount of solar capacity installed in the U.S. and is projected to grow.

Talk Clean Energy with Choose New Jersey

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.

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Bill Noonan
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Catherine Scangarella
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