Offshore wind seen as energy and jobs opportunity for New Jersey
TRENTON – Offshore wind has the potential to produce about 90% of the electricity the United States is projected to need in 2050 even if fossil fuels were fully phased out, with New Jersey in position to be among the leading states, according to a new report issued Thursday.
Not all of that technical potential for offshore wind energy will be developed – nor should it, says the report from the Frontier Group and Environment America Research & Policy Center.
Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said “New Jersey has some of the largest offshore wind potential in the country,” with one project already in development and two more expected to get initial approvals from the state Board of Public Utilities in June.
“Offshore wind can work everywhere. It can work in the Great Lakes, the Gulf (of Mexico), the Pacific,” O’Malley said. “The greatest potential is undoubtedly along the Atlantic seaboard. We can literally power the entire Atlantic seaboard with the potential from offshore wind.”
The report finds Massachusetts has the largest potential offshore wind generation capacity, followed by Florida, the Carolinas and Maine. New Jersey ranks 10th among the 29 states with offshore wind capacity and is off to a faster start than some.
“Our No. 1 industry is on an island,” said Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick, who focused on flooding problems in Atlantic City. “And this is an emergency if there ever was one. We need to act now.”
“The problem cannot be overstated, and the opportunity for New Jersey to take a leadership role nationally is what this report is highlighting,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Middlesex.
The report said the state and federal governments can help the industry’s development by setting targets for offshore wind generation, as New Jersey has done, and support the creation of a domestic supply chain, as has been done in South Jersey in Salem County and Paulsboro, where the German company EEW is upgrading a port so it can build giant wind turbine towers.
“Manufacturing is the critical component, and we need to take the steps to capture those jobs in New Jersey,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director of the Work Environment Council.
“I can foresee a very quick decision hopefully that’s going to say it doesn’t make any sense to in the American market manufacture in Europe, transport turbines across the ocean,” said former Gov. Jim Florio. “Rather we should be making these things in New Jersey and in the United States.”