The European energy company developing a wind farm 10 miles off Atlantic City is exiting the fossil-fuels business and going all-in on sustainable energy.
The Atlantic City project is on track to open between 2020 and 2025, said Thomas Brostrom, president of North American operations for the recently renamed Orsted company.
The name change from DONG Energy becomes official next month. It is intended to honor Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted, who discovered electromagnetism 200 years ago, “a discovery that’s essential to the way we produce power today,” according to the company.
The company acquired the lease for the Ocean Wind farm, to be located about 10 miles out in the ocean off Atlantic City, in 2015.
For the past 18 months, it has been doing seafloor surveys, talking to local stakeholders and starting work on the permitting process.
The site has the potential for 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind power, enough to supply energy for 500,000 homes.
“It’s very much dependent on permitting,” Brostrom said.
DONG/Orsted divested itself of its oil and gas production recently and plans to completely end all use of coal by 2023, said Brostrom. He said his company went from being the most polluting energy company in Europe to the cleanest in the world in about six years.
DONG has been constructing offshore wind farms for 25 years, Brostrom said.
“We did the world’s first in 1991 in Denmark,” he said. The company kept adding more, and has now built 21 in Europe, according to its website.
“Suddenly we could see a path that the industry could grow from a small niche to play a big part,” Brostrom said. “We needed time to transform. And we needed to be affordable and cost effective.”
Henrik Poulsen, CEO of DONG Energy, said the company is now dedicated to green energy.
“Our focus going forward will be on green growth based on our existing business platforms in offshore wind, biomass, green customer solutions and advanced waste to energy solutions.”
He said a global green energy transition is not only possible, but makes financial sense.
In Europe, offshore wind is among the cheapest energy, Brostrom said, cheaper than nuclear or coal. In the United Kingdom and the Netherlands the cost is 6 cents to 7 cents per kilowatt hour, he said.
In contrast, the United States’ first offshore wind farm, called Block Island Wind Farm and built by Deepwater Wind off Rhode Island, generates power for 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour.
“We have reduced he cost more than 70 percent over four years,” Brostrom said.
Part of the reason is larger turbines.
“You get more output with fewer units,” Brostrom said. “You can move them farther offshore to capture stronger winds out there. That is driving down costs.”
The United States is a different market in which natural gas is very cheap, he said, so there will be different challenges here. There is not yet an efficient supply chain for building and maintaining large scale wind farms, he said.
But he hopes to develop projects along the East coast that can eventually support large, competitive supply chains that drive costs down.
A second major wind development off the Jersey Shore is planned for 183,353 acres leased by U.S. Wind Inc.