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Offshore Wind 101: What to know about clean energy in New Jersey

When it comes to addressing climate change, New Jersey isn’t just talking about solutions: We are leading in creating a world powered by clean energy.

Governor Phil Murphy recently accelerated the goal of moving to 100% clean energy by 2035. Achieving this goal will demand bold action, including the implementation of the New Jersey Offshore Wind Strategic Plan approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. This plan details an offshore wind industry that will provide clean, renewable energy to New Jersey while expanding the state’s skilled workforce and benefiting its economy.

What is Offshore Wind?

Civilizations have harnessed wind power since as far back as 5,000 B.C. to move boats down the Nile river, pump water, and aid in food production. While the technology used to utilize wind energy has advanced significantly, the basic principle remains the same.

Wind energy is actually a form of solar energy. Wind occurs as a result of three events: the earth’s rotation, irregularities of the earth’s surface, and the sun unevenly heating the atmosphere.

In order to convert wind into usable energy, the wind must push the propellers of a wind turbine, causing them to rotate. The propellers then spin a generator which creates electricity. Since wind is exceptionally powerful above the ocean, offshore wind turbines have the ability to generate great amounts of energy. Ocean turbines are also usually larger than land turbines and tend to be taller than the Statue of Liberty — with blades the length of a football field. This energy is then transported back to land using cable systems buried below the sea floor.

Why New Jersey?

Under the federal government’s Department of Interior, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has designated 18 offshore wind lease areas on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, seven of which are located in the New York Bight — the part of the Atlantic Coast extending from Long Island to Cape May. New Jersey will be home to three of these offshore wind farms. When the State’s Energy Master Plan is complete, New Jersey will produce 30% of all the offshore wind energy on the East Coast.

But it’s more than our coastline that makes New Jersey perfectly positioned to be a leader in clean energy. We have one of the largest offshore wind talent pools in the Northeast. By growing the state’s robust supply chain, the offshore wind industry will create more than 9,500 jobs in New Jersey by 2045.

New Jersey will also house the nation’s first purpose-built offshore wind marshaling and manufacturing port. The New Jersey Wind Port (NJWP) is already under construction and is expected to create an estimated 1,500 permanent manufacturing, assembly, and operations jobs. The state has committed $500 million to fund the project.

Creating a Clean Energy Future

New Jersey selected Ørsted to build the state’s first wind energy projects. Ørsted is a world leader in the offshore wind industry and has already begun work on the state’s first offshore wind farm, which will be located 15 miles off the coast of Southern New Jersey. In partnership with PSEG, the Ocean Wind 1 Project will deliver 1,100 MW of clean energy to New Jersey residents, supplying power to about 500,000 homes each year. The project is expected to remove 110 million tons of carbon dioxide — equal to taking 21.6 million cars off our roads.

As part of a commitment to spend $695 million to help build our state’s offshore wind industry, Ocean Wind 1 will create approximately 1,000 trade union jobs each year of construction and 69 full-time staff members once the project is complete. The jobs are expected to come from Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May Counties. Through the Pro-NJ Grantor Trust, up to $15 million in grants will be awarded to small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses to help create an equitable and diverse offshore wind industry. In January 2023, New Jersey selected Ørsted’s Ocean Wind 2 Project and EDF/Shell’s Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind to receive an additional 2,658 MW of offshore wind capacity. The announcement was the largest combined award in the country to date.

Ørsted’s Ocean Wind 2 Project will help expand the first U.S. offshore wind manufacturing facility — the EEW American Offshore Structures monopile facility in the Paulsboro Marine Terminal — which will bring 500 full-time jobs and $250 million in investments to Southern New Jersey. A second Pro-NJ Grantor Trust will designate $8 million for New Jersey businesses, including veteran-owned small businesses, interested in the offshore wind industry. Through a partnership with New Jersey Institute of Technology, Ocean Wind 2 will also establish a 10-year, $1.5 million scholarship and career development program.

Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind will create more than 200 jobs in Salem County and produce enough clean energy to power more than 700,000 homes. A third wind project award will be announced later in 2023. The combined projects will add a projected $4.67 billion to New Jersey’s economy.

Winds of Change

The offshore wind industry is not just investing in clean energy — it’s tackling environmental justice issues. A recent report from the Applied Economic Clinic found that the state’s overburdened communities face disproportionate health risks from environmental pollution caused by fossil fuel power plants. New Jersey’s renewable clean energy plan is both alleviating our dependency on fossil fuels and designed to equitably distribute the economic benefits of the offshore wind industry by making significant investments back into communities.

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