By David Wojick
Things are looking bad for offshore wind in America (which makes me happy). On one hand, opposition is growing. On the other, the cost crisis is driving prices way up. Whether the offshore US boom will bust remains to be seen, but it is certainly possible. Here’s hoping.
Bad news for the industry is coming in daily, so there is too much to report. Here are just a few samples to give the flavor of the debacle in progress.
In New Jersey, we get this dramatic report of a poll: “Support for Wind Energy Plunges”.
Here is their summary: “A majority of New Jerseyans continue to favor the development of offshore wind energy, but the current level of support is far below the widespread backing it has received in polls over the prior 15 years. The Monmouth University Poll finds that 4 in 10 residents think wind farms could hurt the state’s summer tourism economy, and just under half see a connection between wind energy development and the recent spate of whales washing up on New Jersey beaches. Few see wind energy leading to major job growth in the state.”
The number of New Jersey residents who support offshore wind fell by more than 20 percent since 2019, from 76 percent four years ago to just over half (54 percent) now, and the number of those opposing offshore wind has climbed from 15 percent to 40 percent since 2019.
New Jersey is one of the two states that hold statewide elections in off-years, so theirs is coming in November. Offshore wind has now become an election issue. CFACT has been very active there.
Of course, the developers say we opponents of wind are lying. What else can they say, since they have no real defense? Here is a good example: “Support for Offshore Wind in New Jersey Drops, Industry Points to Effect of Misinformation”.
It is the usual nonsense. We opponents of offshore wind technology are all shills of big oil; these monsters are needed to stop global warming; we don’t understand that the technology is harmless, etc. Pure rhetorical junk.
Further north, the entire Fisherman’s Advisory Board has resigned from the Rhode Island offshore approval decision process. This is a big deal because the Rhode Island Fisherman’s Advisory Board is an integral part of the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), which is a State process hailed as the “gold standard for offshore wind development”. Rhode Island is allowed to apply this process to certain offshore wind projects in federal waters that impact Rhode Island residents and industries, most importantly the fishing industry. It falls under the Coastal Zone Management Act through a process called “consistency review”, where a state can have a say in projects in federal waters if they affect the state. In that case, the state can require that the project be held to certain state CZMA standards.
Here is the scathing first paragraph of the “We quit” letter: “We, the undersigned members of the Rhode Island Fisherman’s Advisory Board (FAB), hereby resign and refuse to participate any longer in the Rhode Island Ocean SAMP process. It has become abundantly clear that the Rhode Island CRMC (Coastal Resources Management Council) has made deference to offshore wind developers its top priority regardless of the requirements of the Ocean SAMP, the cost to the environment, or the impacts to Rhode Island’s fishing industry. In staff’s own words, the purpose of the FAB/CRMC review process of offshore wind projects is to move the permits forward. We as members of the FAB thought that the purpose of FAB/CRMC review was to ensure that offshore wind projects conformed to the requirements and restrictions of the Ocean SAMP. We were wrong. The Ocean SAMP process has been reduced to mere political theater, to which we refuse to lend any further credence by our presence.”
For the full letter, see “Fishermen’s Advisory Board Done Playing Role in CRMC’s Political Theater”.
In between Rhode Island and New Jersey, Equinor and BP are seeking a whopping 54% hike in New York offshore wind power payments. The price hike for Empire Wind 1 would be $159.64 per Megawatt-hour (MWh) from $118.56; for Empire Wind 2, the bump would be $177.84 per MWh from $107.50, and for Beacon Wind, the enhanced price would be $190.82 from $118.00. These are huge increases.
Back in New Jersey, the biggest Atlantic wind developer — Ørsted — is suing Cape May County and Atlantic City for not issuing permits they have vowed not to do. Speaking of Ørsted:
“Orsted (stock price) plunges 20% on risk of $2.3 billion in US impairments”.
“Orsted delays 1st New Jersey wind farm until 2026; not ready to ‘walk away’ from project”.
They state that, given huge increases in costs, they can’t make money on the project. For now, they are not walking away from their numerous US projects but will reconsider long-term plans by the end of the year.
Back in Rhode Island: “Second Revolution Wind Project Rejected by Rhode Island Energy”.
Utility says higher interest rates, increased costs of capital, and supply chain expenses made the project unattractive”.
The utility does not want to pay the increased price. Imagine that!
The wind bubble may be bursting. We need to keep the pressure on (to mix metaphors). That the industry is struggling is now clear to the financial community. When stock prices sink or product prices soar, that triggers various adverse actions.
Here’s hoping for a cascade of grief for offshore wind development. It serves no useful purpose, is environmentally destructive, and costs a growing fortune.
Stay tuned to CFACT as this hopeful drama unfolds.
David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.