Offshore wind farm projects face major hurdles amid tough economic climate


Long Island, New York — 35 miles off the coast of Long Island, an 800-foot-tall wind turbine made history this month as the first offshore turbine to supply power to a U.S. grid.

The power of the first turbine at the South Fork Wind Farm to become operational it travels through an undersea cable and under a beach, where it then connects to the New York state power grid.

David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Americas, the company building New York's first offshore wind farm, describes the cable as a “78-mile extension cord.”

When completed, the 12 South Fork turbines will generate 132 megawatts of power.

“For those who don't talk about energy, that's 70,000 homes,” Hardy said. “This is the first time. It's a milestone.”

About two dozen offshore wind farms were planned along the East Coast to generate clean energy to replace dirty fossil fuels.

“You have some of the best winds in the world here,” Hardy said.

One such project near Massachusetts' Martha's Vineyard is about to come online. However, inflation, rising interest rates and supply chain problems have made building others too expensive. Ørsted canceled two wind farms off the New Jersey coast and is reconsidering two others.

“We were probably too optimistic in some ways about some things,” Hardy said. “We got caught on the wrong side of some of these macroeconomic trends.”

The projects were key to President Biden's goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, enough to power more than 10 million homes. Analysts now predict the industry will build less than half that number, according to Bloomberg.

“We still see a strong growth opportunity for offshore wind over the long term,” said Timothy Fox, vice president of Clearview Energy Partners. “It's just that its trajectory will be on a longer, flatter slope than I think many of the East Coast states imagined.”

Hardy says building such a complex industry is not easy, but it is essential for a clean energy future.

“We're just at the beginning of something that could be really big and should be successful,” Hardy said.

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