Equinor Joins Bidding in New York's Second Offshore Wind Round

empire wind
Empire Wind lease area (chart courtesy Equinor)

Published Oct 20, 2020 10:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian oil major Equinor announced Tuesday that it is entering into the bidding for New York's second offshore wind power solicitation. 

In this round, New York State is accepting proposals for a total of up to 2,500 megawatts of capacity - about three times more than the size of Equinor's Empire Wind Phase One project, a 50/50 joint venture with BP. The state aims to draw on 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035, part of its goal to achieve a high share of renewables in its energy mix. 

“The U.S. offshore wind industry is poised for expansion and we are passionate about creating substantial value in the New York market,” said Siri Espedal Kindem, President Equinor Wind U.S. “These proposals include significant new benefits for New York - from workforce training, economic development, and community benefits - alongside a tremendous amount of homegrown, renewable energy."

Equinor is bidding with its Empire Wind Phase 2 and Beacon Wind developments, with backing expected from oil major BP.  The Empire Wind lease area is located about 15-30 miles southeast of Long Island, adjacent to the approaches to New York Harbor. The proposed Beacon Wind site is located about 60 miles to the east of Montauk.

As part of the proposal, Equinor plans to use the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal as a base for construction and for ongoing operations and maintenance. Additionally, the proposals include plans for manufacturing offshore wind components upstate at the Port of Coeymans and the Port of Albany, bringing jobs to Upstate and Downstate New York at the same time. 

In September, Equinor announced a deal to sell a non-operating 50 percent stake in Empire Wind and Beacon Wind to BP. The transaction is valued at about $1.1 billion, and closing is expected early next year. BP has announced plans to rapidly scale up its low-carbon investments, and it is targeting total renewables capex in the range of $5 billion per year.

In last year's solicitation round, New York State awarded offtake agreements to Equinor's Empire Wind Phase One and to Sunrise Wind, an 880 megawatt development proposed by Orsted and Eversource. It was the largest offshore wind energy procurement solicitation in the U.S. to date.