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Empire Wind offshore project near NY receives approval

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Empire Wind, an Equinor and BP project being developed off the coast of New York, has received federal approval, the Department of the Interior announced Tuesday.

The Empire Wind project will consist of two facilities, the 816-MW Empire Wind 1 and 1,260-MW Empire Wind 2. This is the sixth commercial-scale offshore wind project approved for development in the U.S., DOI said.

The approval for these facilities comes after two projects being developed off the coast of New Jersey, Ocean Wind 1 and 2, were canceled by developer Ørsted earlier this month due to unworkable financial problems.

The U.S. offshore wind industry has undergone financial turmoil over the last year as rising interest rates, inflation, permitting challenges and supply chain problems have dogged these capital-intensive projects. 

On the same day that Ørsted cancelled its Ocean Wind projects, BP’s head of gas and low carbon Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath said the U.S. offshore wind industry is “fundamentally broken,” Reuters reported. BP recently announced a $540 million impairment on its projects off the coast of New York. 

Despite this, New York has continued to make progress — the state’s first wind turbine was installed this week at the South Fork Wind farm, and a new offshore wind procurement round was recently announced.

Oceantic Network CEO Liz Burdock said that a “parade of positive developments” coming out of New York “has lifted the industry over the past month.”

“Leadership in Albany and the steadfast work at federal agencies are going a long way to securing new investments in ports, vessels, and component manufacturing facilities that will be key to the buildout of the U.S. industry,” Burdock said.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management also approved the construction and operations plan for Revolution Wind last Friday, moving ahead a 704-MW project offshore Rhode Island.

American Clean Power Association Chief Advocacy Officer JC Sandberg said the group is “thankful” for the federal decisions to move ahead with Empire Wind and Revolution Wind, and the “benefits derived from these projects moving forward cannot be overstated.”

“Empire Wind will produce 2.1 gigawatts of clean energy, enough to power over 1 million homes in New York,” Sandberg said. “This project will stimulate the regional economy, revitalize ports, and create many new job opportunities – including new manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and operations jobs.”

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