Atlantic Shores, the joint venture set up by EDF Renewables and Shell New Energies in the US, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Rutgers University on a programme of ocean research and monitoring supporting offshore wind development off the state of New Jersey.

The five-year cooperative agreement, which will focus on “innovative approaches” to collecting and analysing meteorological, oceanographic and marine bio-acoustic data, will be run through the Rutgers Center for Ocean Observing Leadership (RUCOOL).

“Atlantic Shores is committed to increasing data collection that will support the sustainability of the emerging offshore wind industry in New Jersey,” said Chris Hart,” Atlantic Shores’ managing director.

“We look forward to advancing their research efforts by collaborating early on as our portfolio gets off the ground.”

David Kimball, senior vice president for research and economic development at Rutgers, added: “The Jersey coast is a prime location for offshore wind development in our state’s pursuit of achieving 100% clean energy by 2050.

“Rutgers is committed to leveraging its research capabilities, working with industry and state partners, and providing the best possible science to lead the nation in responsible offshore wind development.

Data collected via the tie-up with Atlantic Shores, which builds on work already underdway at RUCOOL partnership with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, will also feed in to the “broader regional knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic marine environment”.

Atlantic Shores plans to build “multiple projects” over the next decade within the 183,000-acre lease area it bought from US Wind last year – calculated to have the potential to generate some 2.5GW of wind power – off the coast of New Jersey.

New Jersey has embraced a 3.5GW offshore wind target by 2030, with developers – including European heavyweights Orsted and Equinor – angling to bid at the current 1.1GW solicitation, as well as two further tenders more of 1.2GW each in 2020 and 2022.

The award of a state contract to build the first offshore wind farm in New Jersey is expected this summer.