Giant offshore wind project axed in blow to Biden’s green goals

Global energy developers Equinor and BP announced Wednesday they are canceling the contract for a massive wind project slated for construction off the coast of New York.

The two companies said they had reached an agreement with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to terminate the offshore wind renewable energy certificate for their Empire Wind 2 project. Equinor and BP explained that commercial conditions, namely inflation, interest rates and supply chain disruptions, prevented its contract for the project from remaining viable.

“Commercial viability is fundamental for ambitious projects of this size and scale. The Empire Wind 2 decision provides the opportunity to reset and develop a stronger and more robust project going forward,” Molly Morris, president of Equinor Renewables Americas, said in a statement. “We will continue to closely engage our many community partners across the state.”

“BP is supportive of NYSERDA’s leadership and commitment to offshore wind, which we believe is a critical part of New York State’s and America’s clean energy future,” added Joshua Weinstein, BP’s president of offshore wind Americas. “Offshore wind can deliver reliable renewable power as well as economic benefits to the state and its communities.”

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The cancelation of Empire Wind 2 comes weeks after the Biden administration formally approved it and its counterpart, Empire Wind 1, in November. The Department of the Interior (DOI) and Energy Department have both endorsed the project, while the White House has referred to it as a success story of “Bidenomics.”

It also comes shortly after energy developer Orsted canceled its Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 twin projects which were also approved and hailed by the Biden administration. Orsted also blamed negative economic conditions.

Together, Empire Wind 1 and 2 were projected to have a total capacity of 2,076 megawatts, enough to power 700,000 homes per year. Empire Wind 2 was expected to account for the majority of that output and have a capacity of 1,260 megawatts.

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“Under President Biden’s leadership, the American offshore wind industry is continuing to expand rapidly — creating good-paying union jobs across the manufacturing, shipbuilding and construction sectors,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on Nov. 21 after green-lighting Empire Wind 2. “Today’s approval of the sixth offshore wind project adds to the significant progress towards our Administration’s clean energy goals.”

DOI added that “Bidenomics and the President’s Investing in America agenda are growing the American economy from the middle out and bottom up.” The agency also said the Empire Wind projects would support President Biden’s lofty green energy goals.

In 2021, Biden outlined goals to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, the most ambitious goal of its kind worldwide. That same year, his administration approved the Vineyard Wind and Southfork Wind project, the first two large-scale offshore wind projects approved in U.S. history.

The November approval of the Empire Wind project marked the sixth such approval.

Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the finalization of contracts between NYSERDA and Empire Wind’s developers in January 2022.

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