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Equinor's Empire Wind Project Gets Final Federal Permit

Empire Wind
The Empire Wind lease area (Equinor)

Published Feb 22, 2024 11:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Equinor's Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2 offshore wind projects have received their final federal permitting approval. The decision enables developer Equinor to move forward once it secures a new offtake agreement with the State of New York. 

The Empire Wind site is located about 12 nautical miles south of Long Island, and has a capacity potential of up to two gigawatts. It is a linchpin in New York State's plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 

To commercialize Empire Wind, Equinor has asked New York State for a new state offtake agreement. Most offshore wind projects on the U.S. East Coast were designed around prepandemic business conditions, including low inflation, low interest rates and a stable supply chain. Those factors have changed over the past four years, and East Coast offshore wind developers have been canceling or rebidding projects accordingly - like Equinor's Ocean Wind project off New Jersey, which was canceled in a multibillion-dollar loss last year.

Empire Wind has not been immune to these headwinds. One-half of the project, Empire Wind 2, has been delayed indefinitely. Joint backers Equinor and BP terminated Empire Wind 2's state offtake agreement in early January, citing the deep changes in the U.S. offshore wind market. (Empire Wind 1's offtake agreement was not canceled.)

Shortly after, BP and Equinor parted ways in the offshore wind market. Equinor kept control of Empire Wind, and in late January, it rebid the still-active Empire Wind 1 project in a special new state auction round. 

If New York State accepts Equinor's new strike price bid for Empire Wind 1, the project could begin construction by the end of this year and deliver its first power to market by 2026. The work on Equinor's future wind port project at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal could start even earlier, within months. 

"We are ready to get to work," said Molly Morris, President of Equinor Renewables Americas. "Empire Wind is one step closer to delivering renewable power to hundreds of thousands of New York homes."