New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed an executive order backing a goal of 7.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035, more than doubling the state's existing 3.5-gigawatt target for 2030.

By the mid-2030s, offshore wind could provide New Jersey with half of its electricity, Murphy said in a speech alongside former Vice President Al Gore. “No other renewable energy resource provides us either the electric generation or economic growth potential of offshore wind,” Murphy said.

New Jersey is heavily reliant on natural gas and nuclear power for its electricity, though it also gets nearly 5 percent from solar, among the highest penetrations in the country. Last year the state offered up subsidies to keep its dwindling fleet of nuclear reactors operating, joining a handful of other states including New York in doing so.

New Jersey looked set to be an early leader in the U.S. offshore wind industry, but the state’s market stalled under former Governor Chris Christie, a Republican. One early project facing Atlantic City, backed by developer Fishermen’s Energy (and later acquired by EDF), failed to move off the drawing board.

After taking office in January 2018, Murphy, a Democrat and the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, moved aggressively to help New Jersey catch up as the U.S. offshore wind market gained steam along the East Coast. New Jersey’s 3.5-gigawatt target is codified in a law, and this summer the state contracted for its first 1.1 gigawatts with Ørsted’s Ocean Wind project, due for completion in 2024 using GE’s 12-megawatt Haliade-X turbines.

While not yet written into law, New Jersey’s newly boosted target offers the regional market another dose of visibility as it plans for the late 2020s and beyond, potentially paving the way for supply-chain investment.

Although many of the major components for the first few waves of large-scale U.S. offshore wind farms will be imported from Europe, the growing list of contracted projects and state targets is starting to bring the shape of the future supply chain into focus.

New Jersey is competing with states across New England and the mid-Atlantic region for offshore wind supply-chain investment and jobs. Only New York has a more ambitious deployment target, legislated at 9 gigawatts for 2035.

As part of its winning bid for Ocean Wind, Ørsted committed to helping Germany’s EEW establish a plant for turbine foundations in Paulsboro, New Jersey. EnBW, a German utility and renewables developer looking to crack into the U.S. offshore market, recently opened an office in Jersey City.

Wood Mackenzie analysts expect the U.S. to blossom into a 2+ gigawatt offshore wind market by the early 2020s, with more than 16 gigawatts in place by 2028.

And the market’s impact will be even larger than those numbers suggest, given that virtually all of that capacity will be built in waters between Massachusetts and North Carolina, necessitating once-in-a-generation investments into the region's port and harbor infrastructure.

In addition to Ørsted, developers Equinor and Atlantic Shores (a venture comprising Shell New Energies and EDF) hold the rights to offshore zones in a position to sell power into New Jersey. The federal government is planning another round of lease auctions for additional zones near New York and New Jersey, likely making future offshore wind solicitations in those states even more competitive.

Developers like Equinor, meanwhile, believe floating wind farms could play a sizable role in California's future electricity market, complementing the state's large onshore renewables portfolio.


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