NYSERDA to measure wind speed and ocean waves in pre-development of offshore wind power area

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) took another step to advance offshore wind development off the coast of Long Island by seeking comments on a draft plan to measure wind speed and ocean waves at the federal ocean site on which it plans to bid on December 15. Offshore wind is critical to the state’s ambitious Clean Energy Standard to responsibly secure 50 percent of its electricity supply from renewable sources by 2030,which supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision.

The draft plan, called MetOcean, calls for the use of Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) technology mounted on two buoys to obtain wind and wave data. Accurate wind speed and direction measurements are critical to predicting offshore wind energy production potential at the site, and ocean waves impact the cost of building offshore wind facilities. The buoys are expected to be in place for 12 to 24 months with the associated data to be made available for public use. This data will provide developers and their funders with confidence to finance development of an offshore wind area, reducing uncertainty and project costs.

NYSERDA is requesting feedback on the MetOcean plan from offshore wind energy developers, consultants, financiers, scientists, regulators and other stakeholders. Comments are due by December 15, 2016.

“Now more than ever, New York State is leading on clean energy development and combating climate change,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “If NYSERDA wins the bid for this ocean site, we will ensure offshore wind in New York is developed responsibly, competitively and most cost-effectively for consumers, we will actively protect the environment, and we will balance the needs of all constituents and stakeholders, including coastal communities and fishing and maritime industries.”

At a recent stakeholder meeting, NYSERDA received encouragement for its plans to bid on the 79,000-acre wind energy site in the lease auction to be administered by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. NYSERDA will incorporate extensive stakeholder outreach into offshore wind development decisions.

The MetOcean project is one of many assessments NYSERDA plans to conduct at the ocean site to reduce project costs and shorten development time. Examples of other pre-development projects, include:

  •     wildlife surveys
  •     data collection about the characteristics of the sea bottom
  •     environmental impact studies of an offshore wind project at the site
  •     engineering specifications for bringing the electricity to shore

These studies will help developers better understand the potential for electricity production from the site, the most cost-effective type of structure to build, environmental issues to avoid and engineering challenges to consider, ultimately reducing offshore wind costs for New Yorkers.

To obtain the lowest possible cost for the offshore wind project, NYSERDA plans to bundle the results from the various studies, including the MetOcean work, with an offtake agreement for the electricity to be produced at the site, and hold competitive bidding on the package for companies interested in developing the site. Visit New York State offshore wind energy for more information on the State’s plans.

NYSERDA’s approach is modeled after a similar one used in Europe, which has successfully reduced offshore wind project costs there. In addition, offshore wind costs in general are decreasing. In the Netherlands, the winning bid in a July 2016 auction was 7.8 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) for a 700 megawatt project. Just four months later the winning bid for a 600 megawatt project in Denmark was only 5.5 cents a kWh.

Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York’s economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency,in part through the recent adoption of New York’s Clean Energy Standard which requires that 50% of the state’s electricity needs be generated from renewable energy sources by 2030. Already, REV has driven 600% growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80% by 2050.