New York gives green light for two huge offshore wind projects in waters off Long Island

Key Points
  • New York is aiming for 9,000 MW of offshore wind by the year 2035.
  • The offshore wind industry in the U.S. is still relatively young, with the country's first offshore facility only coming online in late 2016. 
The Block Island Wind Farm, located off the coast of Block Island, RI, is pictured on Jun. 13, 2017.
David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images

New York State has awarded two offshore wind contracts with a combined capacity of almost 1,700 megawatts (MW) in waters off Long Island.

The contracts were awarded to Norwegian firm Equinor and a joint venture between Danish company Orsted and U.S. business Eversource.

The Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind developments were announced as the winners of New York's first "comprehensive offshore wind solicitation" on Thursday.

The companies will now commence negotiations for long-term contracts with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for offshore wind renewable energy certificates. Both projects are expected to commence operations in 2024.

Equinor's 816 MW Empire Wind facility will be made up of between 60 to 80 wind turbines, according to the business. It will cover an area of 80,000 acres and be located southeast of Long Island. Total investments in the facility will amount to around $3 billion, and it will be able to power more than 500,000 homes.

The Sunrise Wind project, which is a 50-50 joint venture between Orsted and Eversource, will have a capacity of 880 MW and will be built 30 miles east of Long Island's Montauk Point.

New York is aiming for 9,000 MW of offshore wind by the year 2035. The state's Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, described the environment and climate change as "the most critically important policy priorities we face."

"With this agreement, New York will lead the way in developing the largest source of offshore wind power in the nation," he went on to add.

While New York's plans are ambitious, the offshore wind industry in the U.S. is still in its early stages of development. The country's first offshore wind farm, the five turbine, 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, only began commercial operations in late 2016. By comparison, Europe is home 18,499 MW of installed offshore wind capacity, according to industry body WindEurope.