Giant wind turbine harbors ready to transform New York’s coastal forests

Extensive wind turbines will soon be installed 22 kilometers off the coast of New York in the Atlantic Ocean. Through a recent $ 4.37 billion federal auction, these wind farms will help New York meet its 2019 mandate to generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, according to Gothamist.

However, the development of offshore wind energy will require vast areas of shoreline to be converted for the construction and maintenance of giant turbines. The two urban projects under construction are located on Staten Island along Arthur Kill, a shipping canal with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. They are part of a huge project to develop an offshore wind grid in New York.

The proposed sites, Rossville Municipal Site and Arthur Kill Terminal, currently contain undisturbed wild forests and swamps. Over the decades, they have become home to vultures, deer, geese and other wildlife. They will now be replaced by huge new port facilities for the production and assembly of wind turbine components.

These areas were chosen because of the large areas required to build the huge components of offshore wind turbines. The wings of the wind turbines can be as long as a football field and the wind turbine towers can reach 100 meters. Specialized boats that deliver and install turbines also have retractable legs that can reach 100 meters.

Related: Views on New York and New Jersey shores will change: a large wind farm will be built on the ocean

New York developed a plan in September 2021 that includes a $ 191 million investment to reuse public and private offshore terminals, piers, yards, and vacant offshore plots. These areas will be converted into new production facilities, ports and assembly stations where thousands of workers will be able to build and maintain huge wind turbines.

If completed, Staten Island’s two facilities will be part of the city’s first onshore facility designed to support offshore wind farms, located at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park. Under an agreement brokered by the New York Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), ownership of the city will be refurbished by Norwegian state energy company Equinor and British oil and gas company BP.

The site will also be a power grid node where submarine cables will supply electricity generated from offshore wind farms. New York is required by state law to generate 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035, supplying up to 6 million homes.

There is an opportunity here

The Arthur Kill terminal could become one of the most important links in the offshore wind farm in New York. There are few locations in the area that meet the height and space requirements required for assembling and transporting wind towers. This is a 12-acre plot of land in the Richmond Valley area, south of the Outerbridge junction, at the mouth of Mill Creek.

“If you think about where such a facility could be and look at potential facilities in the area, this is really the only place in northern New Jersey and New York State that would fit,” said Boon Davis, President and CEO. Atlantic Offshore. terminals.

Davis said his company looked at 70 different locations in the area before coming up with the Arthur Kiel terminal project. The local port will be used to assemble the huge towers and wind turbines needed for the wind farms. And then ship them to the port of New York, which is a much cheaper alternative than offshore assembly.

Previously, there were plans to build the Riverside Galleria, a 42,450-square-foot mall with retail and movie theaters on site. The plan was put on the shelf in 2019 after local politicians expressed concerns about increased traffic congestion.

The site now houses a small strip of shops and businesses along Arthur Kill Road. But most of its area is unexploited forest and swamps.

Dirt roads pass through its dense forests, vultures fly over the meadows and geese swim in shallow ponds. Hidden along the coastline on Arthur Kill Island is a 450 m long unused sandy beach.

The developers of Atlantic Offshore Terminals recognize the environmental impact of demolition of this wildlife.

“It’s so important in terms of renewable energy that we have to build this port. But there is an impact. We will take over tidal and some freshwater wetlands, “said Charles Duherty, Commercial Director of Atlantic Offshore Terminals.

Duherty says the company plans to spend money on protecting and restoring wetlands in other parts of the island to offset its actions. However, he did not name the exact amount.

“The main obstacle we still face is getting state support for the project,” Duherty said. “You can not build a port in the United States without the financial support of the government.”

In August 2021, Empire State Development, in collaboration with developers, applied for funding from the US Department of Transportation Port Infrastructure Development Grant Program. In April 2022, his bid received support from Chuck Sumer in the Senate. NYCEDC also wrote a letter of support for the project.

Jurassic park atmosphere

Three miles north on Arthur Kill Road, near Rossville, Staten Island, NYCEDC recently completed a request for proposals to develop Rossville City Hall.

This 13-hectare area has belonged to the city since 1990 and is one of the largest underdeveloped coastal industrial sites. The NYCEDC said it would prioritize proposals to turn the site into an offshore wind farm that will build turbine blades and wind farm components. The Municipality is also open to proposals for the use of the site for operation, maintenance, installation and assembly.

The interior of Rossville is a 4-hectare post-industrial wilderness, where trees and vines have grown untouched for decades, around some empty, graffiti-covered warehouses. A spring pond formed at the base of one of the gas tanks, flooding industrial concrete debris. Abandoned luggage, office chairs and playground equipment point to the fact that local forests are often visited.

“Right now, he definitely has something of Jurassic Park,” said Max Tuffett, vice president of NYCEDC. “Rossville was waiting for the right time to match the natural features of the site, its coastal nature and the location of Staten Island,” Tuffett said. The NYCEDC RFP expired on June 1 and the city is currently evaluating options for this site.

Together with the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, the Rossville Municipal Site and the Arthur Kill Terminal, NYCEDC plans to build or outsource a network of other facilities throughout New York to support wind energy.

These onshore structures that support offshore wind farms will generate more than $ 1 billion a year over the next few decades, according to NYCEDC. And also create up to 13,000 jobs in the city and state.

“The lifespan of each of these facilities is 30 years. “So they have to be maintained for 30 years and then they will be replaced by next-generation turbines,” Kimball said.

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