Equinor blows into the Empire State
Norway’s energy company enters US market with 9,000 megawatt offshore wind project
Norwegians were involved in building many of the skyscrapers in New York City in the old days. Now, it is time for some Norwegian construction at sea south of the city.
Equinor Empire Wind won New York State’s first offshore wind electricity contract, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on July 18. The award is a win for all sides. New York consumers will have access to renewable energy, and it jumpstarts the state toward its renewable energy and climate goals, among them having 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. This will bring significant economic benefits to New York.
Equinor thus establishes itself as a major player in this sector. The contract represents an important milestone for Equinor’s ambition of building an offshore wind area on the U.S. East Coast. The project will require 60 to 80 wind turbines, each as tall as the 77-story Chrysler Building in New York City, which is 905 feet tall, 1,046 feet to the tip of its spire. Total investment will be around $3 billion. When completed, wind power will be provided to over 500,000 homes in New York.
With this development, Equinor, formerly Statoil, is becoming a major energy company. It has four renewable offshore wind projects in the United Kingdom and Germany. In 2017, Equinor built the world’s first floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Norfolk, Scotland. The company also recently obtained a lease area in federal waters off Massachusetts. The company is also developing offshore wind projects in Poland and solar energy in Brazil and Argentina.
The stretch outside New York City extends 15 to 30 miles southeast of Long Island and covers water depths between 65 and 131 feet. Equinor is committed to paying fair hourly wages with benefits. The project is expected to begin in the spring of 2021, with commercial operation beginning at the end of 2024.
Christer af Geijerstam, president of Equinor Wind U.S., said, “Being selected in this highly competitive field of bidders shows the confidence that New York leadership has in Equinor’s capabilities of developing large offshore energy projects, delivering affordable renewable energy, while also providing significant economic benefits locally. We are now looking forward to working with our partners throughout New York state to bring this project forward.”
Pål Eitrem, executive vice president for Equinor New Energy Solutions, said, “We are proud to have been awarded this major wind project offshore New York. Empire Wind represents a breakthrough for Equinor’s global offshore wind ambitions and is an important step in our development as a broad energy company. We have demonstrated that we can be successful in fierce competition with our first wind project outside of Europe. The project will be the biggest wind farm under contract in our portfolio so far. We are looking forward to developing Empire Wind together with local authorities, local communities, and the U.S. industry.”
About 800 local jobs will be created during construction and operation. Equinor is determined to build the country’s first offshore wind supply chain that will enable the construction, installation, and operation of offshore wind projects. New York will also receive $60 million from Equinor for port upgrades that will allow for future offshore wind projects, and at least $4.5 million for community benefits and workplace development.
“The development of Empire Wind will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to New York, help affirm our position as the offshore wind hub of the Northeast, and propel us even closer to achieving the governor’s ambitious climate and energy goals,” said Alicia Barton, President and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the September 20, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.