EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies have tapped Danish consulting firm COWI to devise the giant electrical transmission system design for the developers' planned Atlantic Shores wind complex off the US state of New Jersey.
COWI said its work would encompass design, quantity and placement of onshore and offshore substations as well as the interarray cables connecting substations and individual turbines.
Electrical system design is a core part of the so-called construction and operations plan (COP) that developers are required to submit for approval for each project to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which regulates commercial offshore wind energy activities on the federal outer continental shelf.
Atlantic Shores would be located in a 183,000-acre (740 sq km) lease area located in a radius of 8-20 miles (12-32 km) facing the coast between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light.
A unit of EDF Renewables NA acquired the lease in December 2018 for $215m from US Wind, fully owned by Italian renewables developer Renexia. US Wind, which is solely focused now on offshore developments off Maryland, had paid only $1m for control of the second-largest area under lease along the US east coast.
EDF Renewables NA subsequently formed a joint venture with Shell New Energies – Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind – to develop the lease area which they believe has potential to supply up to 2.5GW of wind power capacity to multiple markets along the eastern seaboard.
The JV expects the project to begin delivering electricity in the mid-2020s, but has not yet signed a power off-take contract.
Atlantic Shores is expected to enter New Jersey’s next competitive solicitation for 1.2GW capacity later this year. Last November, state governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order raising the state’s 2035 offshore wind procurement goal from 3.5GW by 2030 to 7.5GW.
In June 2019, the Board of Public Utilities awarded Danish developer Orsted a contract for an initial 1.1GW of capacity toward the original 3.5GW target.
COWI has been expanding in the US in response to the fast-growing US offshore wind market by opening headquarters in Boston following the award by Vineyard Wind in 2018 of a contract for parts of its eponymous 800MW offshore wind project under development off the southern coast of Massachusetts.
Investment in the US offshore wind power industry is on track to eclipse that going into the country’s offshore oil & gas sector within five years as the turbine build-out off its Atlantic seaboard grows to 20GW by 2030, according to research from Rystad Energy.
The US Energy Information Administration estimates the potential for offshore wind power off the lower-50 states’ coasts at 7200TWh. Fully developed, this resource would translate into hundreds of projects of a scale similar to those already sanctioned, with Rystad calculating each development would call for investments of an average $3bn.