Offshore wind hub breaks ground in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Elizabeth Yeampierre stood near the edge of the Brooklyn waterfront earlier this week. A vast concrete lot stretched out before her, riddled with weeds and rain puddles, as the Manhattan skyline sparkled in the distance. For years, Yeampierre has fought to transform this vacant expanse into a hub for clean-energy industries — one that could bring much-needed jobs to the surrounding neighborhood of Sunset Park.

Now, that’s finally starting to happen.

On Monday, construction began on an offshore wind facility at the 73-acre lot known as the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Equinor, the Norwegian energy giant, will use the site to receive and ship out the enormous wind turbines that it plans to install in the Atlantic Ocean. When completed in 2026, the facility will be one of the largest dedicated hubs serving offshore wind, a crucial energy industry that’s slowly emerging in the United States.

“It’s a landmark achievement, and it shows that we can become a model of a just transition,” Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE, said during a ground-breaking event. The grassroots organization primarily serves residents in Sunset Park, a largely working-class neighborhood of Asian, Latino, and immigrant communities.

​“An industrial sector that has had a long history in our communities of toxic exposure is now taking seriously our vision of a green reindustrialization,” Yeampierre said.

Later, she clutched a ceremonial shovel alongside New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) and other speakers beneath the blazing sun. Workers here will assemble and maintain the towers, blades, and components used for offshore wind installations, starting with Equinor’s 810-megawatt Empire Wind 1 project near Long Island. Subsea cables will connect that wind farm to the Brooklyn terminal’s new substation, delivering enough clean electricity to supply 500,000 homes.

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The construction project will create a staging and pre-assembly site for the turbine components of Empire Wind 1 and will include an onshore substation to connect 810 MW of wind power to the Gowanus substation. Empire Wind 1 will be the first offshore wind project to connect directly to the New York City grid.

The site is part of the active port in New York and one of the historic locations along the Brooklyn waterfront. The plan for the wind terminal was first announced in January 2022, at which time they said the public-private partnership was funding commitments to $644 million in port infrastructure investments along the waterfront. SBMT is being redeveloped together with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and terminal operator Sustainable South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SSBMT). SSBMT is a joint venture of Red Hook Terminals and Industry City.

Equinor and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) finalized a new contract for the power from the project after the wind farm was rebid in 2024 due to rising development costs. The company has also committed to a broad range of community development projects. Officially, Equinor has yet to take a final investment decision, but the company reports that it plans to use project financing, with the financial close anticipated by the end of 2024. No timeline has been announced for offshore construction to begin.

The lease for Empire Wind was acquired in 2017 and recently completed the federal approval process. Equinor acquired full rights to the project after it split its offshore portfolio with former partner BP. Empire Wind will be located 15 to 30 miles southeast of Long Island and spans 80,000 acres, with water depths of between approximately 75 and 135 feet.

The project’s two phases, Empire Wind 1 and 2, have a potential capacity of more than 2 GW (810 + 1,260 MW), enough to power over one million New York homes.?The first phase will consist of 54 turbines with a target to deliver first power in late 2026.

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Off-shore wind farms are more expensive to build and more expensive to operate than on-shore farms.

The Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island went in service in late 2016. The wind farm has a capacity of 30 MW.

Last year, Block Island generated 87,404 MWh.

87404 MWh / (30 MW x 24 hr x 365) = 0.333 capacity factor. This isn’t much different than the US average capacity factor for on-shore wind farms, which was 0.335 last year. I thought the purpose for building off-shore was because the winds were stronger or more consistent off shore? Apparently not so, at least off the coast of Rhode Island.

  • Pete

The small wind farm has only 5 wind turbines rated at 6 MW.

In 2022, Block Island generated 111,195 MWh

111195 MWh / (30 MW x 24 hr x 365) = 0.426 capacity factor. This small wind farm did much better than on-shore wind farms.

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