Offshore wind energy is on track to become a $1 trillion global industry, reported Reuters last week.
And New Jersey, receiving the nation’s largest-ever award to build an offshore wind farm, is positioned to become a major player in this market.
On October 17, 2019, MBS hosted a panel of experts to discuss the future of wind power and what its increasing use means for the world, for our state, and for MBS students. The lecture was hosted by Professor Edward J. Linky, an attorney and senior advisor on energy and climate, who teaches the MBS course Fundamentals of Sustainability: The Practitioner Perspective—from Concepts to Transactions (course #: 16:137:554).
Distinguished speakers included:
- Dr. Kevin Lyons, Rutgers Business School, who has researched and written extensively about environmental issues as related to global supply chains.
- Dennis Toft, environmental attorney from the law firm of Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi, whose practice areas include environmental as related to regulatory counseling, due diligence, enforcement, development/redevelopment, and insurance.
- Stephen Reid, Mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, a seaside community potentially impacted by the offshore wind project, known as Ocean Wind.
- Matt Drew, Lead Sourcing & Onshore Facilities Manager at Ørsted, the Danish energy company that will lead creation of Ocean Wind, which will sit roughly 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City and is set to begin construction in 2020.
The discussion, which took place in front of a packed audience in the CoRE Building boardroom, at first focused primarily on projects led by Ørsted, which—in addition to leading creation of New Jersey’s wind farm, Ocean Wind—has several active and ongoing projects in the state.
Drew stated that New Jersey has the perfect conditions for a wind farm: there are high energy demands, high wind conditions, and a 60-mile continental shelf on which the Wind Farm can be constructed. These conditions do not exist in California, as it has no continental shelf.
Figure 1 The panelists, with diverse areas of expertise, each brought a different perspective about the future of wind energy and discussed different aspects of projected industry growth and impact.
The conversation then turned to social climates. Questions revolved around how residents would react to wind turbines, how the wind farm, Ocean Wind, would affect local maritime industries, and if the wind-energy project could generate jobs for New Jersey residents.
Mayor Reid said he was unsure how his community would react to the Ocean Wind project. The long-established maritime businesses in the town could potentially be affected as could tourism.
Although the panel consensus was positive around the potential of the Ocean Wind project on New Jersey’s economy and environment, they emphasized that the opinions and buy-in of local residents are important for any proposed project to thrive.
Figure 2: A moment of levity during the panel discussion.
The final portion of the conversation was about retrofitting existing industrial structures to accommodate the new niche-market of wind power. Dr. Lyons stated that he has been involved with several long-term studies that have assisted in reviewing the supply-chain side of the industry.
All panelists agreed that New Jersey and the U.S. have many opportunities to manufacture the materials needed. One of the largest hurdles, explained Drew, is shipping the large specialized parts from Europe. If the United States can successfully establish a supply chain for these materials, we may see the popularity of wind power soar quickly.
Regardless, the use of offshore wind power as an energy source is set to increase substantially over the next few years, with wind power—and wind farms such as Ocean Wind—poised to be a major force in the U.S. This is a great opportunity for students of all academic concentrations to get in at the ground level of this burgeoning field; it is a particularly exciting opportunity for students with concentrations in sustainability, global agriculture, urban environmental analysis, and engineering disciplines such as supply-chain management.