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EDF and Shell Aim to Develop Offshore Wind Farm Off Atlantic City, New Jersey

Dubbed Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, the joint venture between EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies US has been created to develop an offshore wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J. that partners say has the potential to produce some 2,500MW of emissions-free, electrical power -- enough for nearly one million average homes.

The announcement comes despite the New Jersey Board of Utilities recently rejecting EDF Renewables-backed Nautilus Offshore Wind LLC's proposed plan to build a pilot-scale, offshore wind power farm off Atlantic City's coast for the third time.

Nautilus intended to develop the 25MW project in waters 2.8 miles off the Atlantic City coast. The board decided the cost of developing the project, which would have been passed on to ratepayers in order to demonstrate it would produce a net economic benefit to them and the state, was too high, according to a news report.

If at first you don't succeed...

EDF Renewables has 2,800MW of offshore wind generation capacity in development or operation in Europe. Now the company is setting its sights on developing the U.S.' vast, untapped offshore wind power potential. 

Shell has never committed much to developing renewable energy resources, as is the case for all the major oil & gas multinationals, and it has displayed an on-again, off-again attitude towards the sector.

That seems to be shifting towards the on-again mode as offshore wind power costs have dropped sharply in recent years, and the international drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning away from fossil fuels-based and nuclear power generation towards decentralized systems that relay predominantly on a mix of distributed, renewable energy resources, smart grid, battery-based and other digitally networked energy storage technologies.  

In addition, Shell and other oil & gas multinationals are uniquely capable and positioned to carry out sophisticated, large-scale, offshore energy resources development projects. And Shell has acquired experience in the wind power sector.

Shell entered the on-shore wind power market in 2001, management points out. It has interests in five operating, on-shore wind farms in North America, and an operational, offshore wind farm in Europe.

Shell is also a member of the Blauwind consortium that intends to build and operate the 731.5MW Borssele 3 and 4 offshore wind farms in a Netherlands' North Sea territory. The Blauwind consortium set what was at the time a new, record-low price for offshore wind energy in Dec. 2016 -- 54.5/MWh (USD62.4/MWh) through the first 15 years of operation. Project partners earlier this year said construction would begin in 2019's fourth quarter and commercial production early in 2021.

Bold offshore wind ambitions

“Shell has bold ambitions to grow our renewable power business and we see great potential in U.S. offshore wind,” Shell VP, Wind Development Dorine Bosman was quoted. “Gaining access to this acreage in New Jersey complements our successful entry to Massachusetts and our existing renewable generation business. Building on the strength of our brand and global presence allows us to continue providing our customers with more and cleaner energy.”

For its part, EDF Group aims to double its renewable power generation capacity to 50GW by 2030. “As the costs of offshore wind are declining, the U.S. offshore wind industry is quickly advancing with strong Federal and State support. The industry is well-positioned to meaningfully contribute to the New York and New Jersey economies through employment and supply chain opportunities,” added EDF Renewables' president and CEO Tristan Grimbert. 

According to the joint-venture partners, Atlantic Shores Wind LLC will start working to assess the offshore wind site's potential more fully and start formal development efforts as soon as possible. Subject to final approval of an investment decision, the tentative goal is to bring the offshore wind farm into operation by the mid-2020's.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 20, 2018 8:51 pm GMT

Surprised but happy to see the efforts on this even with the recent news of the regulators rejecting the most recent proposal. Seems like Gov Christie left the future of the issue in pretty crummy state, but this other article talks about exactly why offshore investment is critical to pave the way for even MORE offshore investment as the learning curve drops and the tech gets even more affordable 

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