The state of New York has awarded 2.5 gigawatts of offshore wind projects to developers Equinor and BP, the largest yet in the state’s massive offshore wind build-out and one of the single largest U.S. renewable energy contracts yet awarded. 

Wednesday’s award, announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his 2021 State of the State address, hands the entirety of New York’s second large-scale solicitation to the two European oil majors that have joined forces in targeting the emerging Eastern U.S. offshore wind opportunity. 

The projects, which add up to $8.9 billion in investment, include 1,230 MW from the Beacon Wind 1 project off the Massachusetts coast and 1,260 megawatts from the Empire Wind 2 project, an expansion of the 816 MW Empire Wind 1 project Equinor is already building off the Long Island coast under the state’s first solicitation, held in 2019.

The awards, which still must be finalized in a purchase and sale agreement with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, bring Equinor’s total offshore wind plans for the state to 3.3 gigawatts. That’s more than one-third of the 9 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035 that New York is targeting, the highest yet announced in a region that’s seeing multiple states jostling for the leadership role. 

Wednesday’s news puts Equinor and strategic partner BP, which invested $1.1 billion in Empire Wind last year, ahead of rivals in the race to supply New York with the carbon-free energy that under state law must constitute 70 percent of its generation by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040. Denmark’s Ørsted won part of New York’s first 1.7 GW solicitation in 2019 with its plans for the 880 MW Sunrise Wind project to be built with utility partner Eversource Energy. 

Offshore wind goals and investments along the East Coast

The announcement also boosts New York’s race with several East Coast states to site offshore wind manufacturing and port facilities within their borders. As part of Wednesday’s award, Norway’s Equinor and U.K.-based BP will partner with New York state to convert the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and the Port of Albany into large-scale offshore wind manufacturing hubs. 

Upgrades to another three ports are planned under Cuomo’s new energy initiative, including increasing the use of the Hudson River Port of Coeymans for turbine foundation manufacturing, as well as expanding operations and maintenance at Port Jefferson and Port of Montauk Harbor in Long Island.

The state has pledged to invest $200 million to a total projected investment of $664 million in these projects to capture the jobs and economic development to flow from what wind industry groups say could add up to $70 billion of investment in U.S. offshore wind projects by 2030.

Other states are gearing up with offshore wind deployment and industrial development plans of their own. Virginia utility Dominion Energy plans to deploy 2.6 GW of offshore wind by 2026, and the state is working with a consortium including Maryland and North Carolina to attract turbine manufacturing facilities and investments in ports and the ships needed to install them in ocean waters. 

New Jersey has set offshore wind targets of 3 GW by 2030 and 7.5 GW by 2035 and awarded its first contract last year for the 1.1-gigawatt Ocean Wind project. Gov. Phil Murphy has announced plans for a $400 million offshore wind port facility. 

And Massachusetts, the offtaker of the 800 MW of power to come from Vineyard Wind project, the country’s first commercial-scale U.S. offshore wind farm being developed by Iberdrola's Avangrid utility and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, is awaiting Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature on a bill that would increase its offshore wind targets from 3.2 GW to 5.6 GW by 2030. 

New York to grow transmission, solar and energy storage

Gov. Cuomo also pledged a host of investments into New York’s broader clean energy transformation in Wednesday’s speech, including a more robust transmission system to carry clean power from upstate resources to downstate load centers still largely reliant on fossil fuel-fired power plants. 

Those include a $2 billion “green energy superhighway” plan to build 250 miles of transmission and a request for proposals for projects to link upstate and Canadian wind and hydropower to New York City, with a projected $5 billion in public and private investment. 

Cuomo’s “Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew” agenda also calls for boosting the state’s latest round of onshore wind and solar projects by building 23 new solar facilities and a hydroelectric project in 2021; continuing to support the construction of battery energy storage projects to balance its growing share of intermittent renewable energy; and investing in workforce training and the electrification of buildings.