Mid-Atlantic
NATHAN KENSINGER FOR GOTHAMIST

NY - Giant wind turbine ports prepare to transform NYC's coastal woodlands

Fourteen miles off the coast of New York, vast fields of offshore wind turbines will soon be installed in the Atlantic Ocean. Spurred by a recent $4.37 billion federal auction of more than 488,000 acres of offshore leases in the New York Bight, these wind farms will help New York realize its 2019 mandate to generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Fourteen miles off the coast of New York, vast fields of offshore wind turbines will soon be installed in the Atlantic Ocean. Spurred by a recent $4.37 billion federal auction of more than 488,000 acres of offshore leases in the New York Bight, these wind farms will help New York realize its 2019 mandate to generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

But growing an offshore wind industry will require the transformation of huge sections of the shoreline in order to construct and maintain the giant turbines. The next two city sites under development are located in Staten Island along the Arthur Kill, a shipping channel with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean, and are part of a larger plan to develop an offshore wind supply chain network in New York City.

The proposed sites – the Rossville Municipal Site and the Arthur Kill Terminal – are both currently home to wild woodlands and marshes that have grown undisturbed for decades, becoming home to vultures, deer, geese and other wildlife. They would be replaced by enormous new port facilities, for manufacturing and assembling wind turbine components.

These areas were selected because of the significant acreage needed to build the enormous components of offshore wind turbines. Wind turbine blades can be longer than a football field, and turbine towers can be 100 meters or taller. The specialized boats that deliver and install turbines also have extendable legs that can measure 100 meters.

Most bridges in the city would clothesline a turbine tower being transported out to the ocean, hence why one of the two sites — Arthur Kill Terminal — is located downstream of any bridges.

To support the construction of near-ocean turbine ports, New York City created a plan in September 2021 that would invest $191 million to repurpose publicly and privately owned marine terminals, piers, shipyards and vacant waterfront lots. These areas would be transformed into new manufacturing facilities, ports and assembly stations, where thousands of workers can build and service the enormous wind turbines.

If completed, the two Staten Island sites would join the city’s first onshore facility dedicated to supporting offshore wind farms, located at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park. In a deal brokered by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), this city-owned property will be renovated by Equinor, a Norwegian state-owned energy company, and BP, a British oil and gas company.

The site will also be a power interconnection site, where underwater cables will deliver the electricity generated at the seabound wind farms. Under state law, New York must create 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind electricity by 2035, which would power up to 6 million homes.

“The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal was obviously step one for us,” said Andrew Kimball, the President & CEO of the NYCEDC. The next step in the city’s plan is to encourage the development of several other offshore wind facilities.

“There are going to be additional power purchase agreements from the State that will result in even more port activity. That can’t be fully accommodated on the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. We have to find other port facilities,” Kimball said.

Read more.