NYSERDA Announces Nearly $1.3 Million to Support Predevelopment Data Collection in the New York Bight to Facilitate Responsible and Cost-Effective Offshore Wind Development
Effort Will Improve Marine Environmental Understanding and Provide Ongoing Data Collection and Knowledge, Ensuring the Safe and Responsible Design and Operation of Offshore Wind Energy Projects
December 8, 2021
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced that nearly $1.3 million is available to support the collection of data through acoustic and oceanographic surveys in the New York Bight Wind Energy Areas to facilitate the responsible development of offshore wind by improving marine environmental understanding, reducing environmental risks, and helping to inform planning for future development. Today’s announcement helps advance New York’s progress toward its nation-leading goal to generate 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, as mandated by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act).
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said: “Data collection is an essential piece of the responsible, cost-effective development and implementation of New York’s offshore wind strategy under Governor Kathy Hochul, and this endeavor will build on our long-standing effort to characterize the NY Bight seafloor. Data collected through this process will help avoid risks to marine life while providing critical information on marine activity, and will enable us to work even more effectively with partners, stakeholders, and developers to make informed decisions as we build our essential offshore wind industry.”
Through a competitive solicitation, NYSERDA seeks to identify contractors to develop acoustic and oceanographic surveys to collect and analyze field data and conduct site assessment work in the New York Bight Wind Energy Areas (WEAs), as identified by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The survey data will help New York better understand marine mammal presence, habitat use, distribution and seasonal movement, as well as the oceanographic characteristics associated with marine wildlife and the New York Bight’s Cold Pool, a layer of cold water that forms annually and is vital to the life cycle of many marine species, including commercial fisheries. These surveys will provide critical information to developers, regulators and stakeholders which will improve our understanding of the marine environment, reduce project risk, help inform construction windows and permits and accelerate project timelines.
This solicitation seeks proposals supporting one or both of the following:
- An autonomous vehicle that will collect physical and biological data in the WEAs during key seasonal periods; and
- A network of bottom-mounted passive acoustic monitors that will record marine mammal presence within the WEAs.
The surveys will commence in 2022, with the data expected to be made publicly available in 2023 through a platform to be identified by the winning proposer(s).The deadline to apply is January 10, 2022 by 3:00 p.m. ET. In addition, NYSERDA will be redeploying a metocean buoy within the New York Bight to continue collecting important data that can be provided to offshore wind developers sooner than when they can conduct their own data collection. This buoy will collect and make publicly available investment grade information about wind, wave and ocean currents, as well as wildlife data to fill data gaps and reduce uncertainty in the temporal and spatial use of the offshore region by wildlife. Combined, these predevelopment data collection activities will position New York State for strong responses from developers securing leases in the upcoming anticipated federal offshore wind lease area auction in early 2022.
Emily Shumchenia, Director of the Regional Wildlife Science Entity (RWSE), said, "We are pleased that NYSERDA's RFP reflects the initial coordination of the four RWSE sectors. This significant investment in passive acoustic monitoring by NYSERDA in the New York Bight—and continued collaboration along the Atlantic coast via RWSE—will ensure that robust regional monitoring of wildlife in offshore wind energy areas is coordinated, efficient, and meets the needs of multiple end users."
Sofie van Parjis, Passive Acoustic Program Lead with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said, “Passive acoustic monitoring has become an effective and extensively used tool for evaluating the effects of human activities in marine environments. As wind energy development takes off along east coast U.S. waters, this NYSERDA effort will help to develop robust and consistent passive acoustic baseline data collection within the passive acoustic monitoring regional network structure.”
Francine Kershaw, Staff Scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “NYSERDA’s acoustic monitoring network will help New York launch offshore wind in a smart way, protective of well-loved endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale. We can learn a lot about the marine mammals right off our shores just by listening, and this important new system will help lead the way.”
Laura Morales, Director of Permitting for Empire Wind, said, “This is a great initiative that will provide valuable information to developers. The data being collected is critical information and helps to ensure renewable offshore wind is developed in a sustainable way in the New York Bight and can be used as a road map for new lease areas around the world.”
Jeffrey Freedman, Research Associate with SUNY Albany, said, “I wholeheartedly support NYSERDA’s efforts to gather more data crucial to the development of offshore wind energy in the New York Bight. The redeployment of the metocean buoy and funding to support collection of additional data will further our understanding of the structure and dynamics of the metocean environment from the sea bottom through the top of the marine atmospheric boundary layer. This additional data will facilitate resource assessment, deployment, and operation of wind energy facilities across the New York Bight, provide information that will help minimize environmental impacts, and contribute to lowering the cost of energy for New Yorkers as we transition to a renewable energy economy.”
Assemblymember Michael Cusick, NYS Assembly Energy Chair said, “While we work toward creating a clean energy grid and achieving our energy and climate goals it is essential that we do so in the most effective, environmentally sound, and cost efficient way possible. Today’s announcement demonstrates our state’s continued commitment to ensuring a responsible transition to the energy grid of the future.”
Senator Kevin Parker, NYS Senate Energy Chair said, “As Chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, I applaud this initiative which will increase our offshore wind supply. This is a huge win for our state, and I applaud Governor Hochul and NYSERDA for their vision and leadership, as we work to combat climate change.”
Assemblymember Steve Englebright, NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair said, “As we move forward to address the impacts of climate change we must continue to collect and study data to ensure we are responsibly developing renewable energy resources and protecting marine habitats, I am pleased to see NYSERDA continuing to support scientific research as part of offshore wind development.”
Senator Todd Kaminsky, NYS Senate Environmental Chair said, “Offshore wind energy projects are crucial to the development of New York State’s green economy as well as meeting the goals set out by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. New York State aims to lead the nation in generating clean energy and these funds will ensure necessary development is both safe and environmentally-friendly. I will continue to advocate for responsible investments in renewable energy and I commend NYSERDA for the work done to make this progress possible."
The work is being supported through the Clean Energy Fund through NYSERDA’s Environmental Research program which includes a more than $16 million investment to support ongoing data collection and knowledge to ensure the safe and responsible design and operation of offshore wind energy projects. Previous initiatives include metocean buoys, geophysical surveys, and digital arial surveys. For more information about New York State’s offshore wind program, please visit here.
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Act
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.