$250 million offshore wind monopile factory to open in Paulsboro
“We are unveiling a $250 million investment ... led by Ørsted and EEW,” Gov. Phil Murphy said as he stood in high winds on the shore of the Delaware River for the news conference. He called it the largest investment in offshore wind in the United States. “This will be a state-of-the-art factory turning out steel components, not just for offshore wind farms off our coast but nationwide,” Murphy said.
Ørsted is a Danish company that won the state’s first offshore wind solicitation in 2019 to build an 1,100-megawatt wind farm called Ocean Wind on a lease area about 15 miles southeast of Atlantic City. It won in part by promising economic development for the state.
EEW Group is a German company that makes the monopiles that are the foundations for offshore wind turbines.
Lee Laurendeau, CEO of EEW-American Offshore Structures, said the company has provided 1,000 monopiles to Ørsted projects in Europe and is able to produce the largest — up to 40 feet in diameter and 400 feet long, made of 5-inch steel plate.
Each can weigh up to 5 million pounds, which is equivalent to 13 of the largest 747 jets, Laurendeau said.
“They will be rolling off this dock in a few years,” he said.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who had recently expressed frustration over the slowness of finalizing a deal to site the monopole facility, was elated.
“We had a lot of friends saying they weren’t seeing anything,” Sweeney said. “Something as big as this takes some time. There were tough negotiations, but we got there.”
In September, Sweeney and two assemblymen asked the state Board of Public Utilities to suspend its approval of the Ocean Wind project, saying the company had not kept promises about economic development in their district.
But on Tuesday, Sweeney was beaming.
“Every state on the East Coast was chasing this, and guess what — we’re getting it,” Sweeney said.
“This is happening at a time when we really need to create new jobs because of the pandemic. Reducing pollution is also more important than ever now that the coronavirus has been linked to air pollution exposure,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is a major step forward in offshore wind and getting New Jersey toward a greener economy.”
But Tittel said his group has major issues with the Gibbstown Liquefied Natural Gas Port, which is also located on the Delaware River in Gloucester County and got final approval early this month.
“It takes some of the wind out of the sails of this announcement. Especially since LNG creates more fracking, more climate impacts and public safety issues,” Tittel said.