Studies and Surveys

Completed Studies and Surveys

Ongoing Studies and Surveys

Completed Studies and Surveys

Data Review and Gap Analysis

In an effort to understand what biological and cultural data already exist for the Offshore Study Area, NYSERDA prepared this Data Review and Gap Analysis. The report catalogs the publicly available data so that the researchers who are performing the studies and surveys for the Offshore Wind Master Plan have a starting place for their work. It also identifies the gaps in data that exist which helps to inform what data are missing and how the Master Plan can help fill those gaps.

Data Review and Gap Analysis [PDF]

Regulatory Review and Stakeholder Perceptions  

Offshore wind energy development is an emerging industry in New York State and the rest of the country that will require both federal and State environmental review. A proposed project in federal waters (more than three miles off New York State’s coast) would trigger a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, compliance with multiple federal wildlife laws, a Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) consistency review, and compliance with multiple State laws. There is little precedent for permitting of offshore wind in New York State, leading to questions and uncertainties about the environmental permitting process for this type of development. Reducing these uncertainties will enhance the opportunity for projects to develop at scale, capturing the benefits of offshore wind energy at the lowest possible cost. To reduce this uncertainty, State and federal regulators participated in a process to help define the goals of environmental assessments for offshore wind energy and wildlife. This report, Advancing Environmental Advancing the Environmentally Responsible Development of Offshore Wind Energy in New York State, is a preliminary step toward providing a framework to inform future discussions, formal guidance documents, research, and policy considerations for entities involved with wildlife and offshore wind energy in New York State.

Advancing Environmental Advancing the Environmentally Responsible Development of Offshore Wind Energy in New York State [PDF]

Ongoing Studies and Surveys

Aerial Baseline Survey of Marine Wildlife

One of the most pressing research needs is baseline data on potential wildlife exposure in developing offshore wind energy. This study provides critical baseline data about wildlife distribution, abundance and migratory patterns of wildlife, including corals, birds, bats, sea turtles, fish, and marine mammals. Aerial high resolution digital still imagery surveys collect data on marine wildlife encountered offshore. The surveys have been designed in light of available historic data, and use the latest digital and sensor technology to provide high identification success. Data and results is being made public as it becomes available, and is suitable for comparison and synchronization with current or similar future datasets. This project is expected to shorten the offshore wind energy development timeline, decreasing uncertainty of site development, reducing costs for offshore wind site developers, and minimizing wildlife impacts.

Ongoing survey dataLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. is available.

Aviation and Radar

Early coordination of potential wind energy locations can help ensure that disruption of aviation systems is avoided whenever feasible, and such early coordination of offshore wind energy locations can mitigate impacts to federal radar systems and aviation facilities. By ensuring that intergovernmental and interagency coordination is accomplished early, impacts on these assets can be minimized, reducing the risk of significant project delays. The goal of this analysis is to accurately identify areas within the Offshore Study Area where wind energy systems are compatible or not with civil and military aviation assets. NYSERDA is conducting an inventory of aviation military assets. Following the inventory, general impact areas surrounding each asset will be applied. This study will also include stakeholder outreach to ensure that all relevant aviation and military planning parameters are considered during the study.

Benthic Environment: Sediment Profile Imaging and Multi-Beam Echosounder Survey

The benthic zone is the ecological region at the lowest level of a body of water. Understanding the benthic environment is important when considering the development of offshore wind. However, certain data gaps require additional studies to inform the development of the Master Plan. To address these data gaps, the overall objective of this project is to provide planning-level characterization of the geological (sediment size and type), geotechnical (density of bottom) and benthic (animal habitat) characteristics of all potential offshore wind energy areas within the Offshore Study Area. The sediment profile imaging/plan view camera system collects downward looking and cross-sectional images of the seafloor to provide rapid assessment of seafloor characteristics such as sediment type and benthic habitat at individual sites. The Multi-Beam Echosounder System collects detailed acoustic imagery of the seafloor topography and backscatter to analyze the seafloor’s relative hardness.

Birds and Bats

The primary objective of this study is to characterize the existing bird and bat data in the Offshore Study Area. In characterizing the bird and bat presence and use, the researchers will also be able to identify the gaps and uncertainties in the existing bird and bat data, which should make it more cost effective for developers to plan and conduct site-specific bird and bat studies and monitoring activities.

Birds

Estimating birds’ risk of collision with offshore wind turbines is one element of the decision-making process for proposed offshore wind developments. New York City and Long Island serve as prime locations along the Atlantic Flyway for hundreds of bird species to forage and nest during migration. Reviewing existing marine bird data is important to characterize the affected environment for birds in the Master Plan and to reduce data gaps for developers when siting an offshore wind farm within the Offshore Study Area. Broad-scale data coverage of marine birds in the Offshore Study Area is thorough and easily accessible. In general, existing marine bird abundance and density data cover several species throughout the Offshore Study Area. Most of the existing data are modeling results based on historic data or data from targeted surveys; however, raw observation data also exist. Bird data will include general Roseate Tern foraging and nesting areas within and near the Offshore Study Area.

Bats

Limited data exist on bat presence and behavior offshore, including which bat species occur offshore, how far they range from shore, and the behavior or mechanism(s) (e.g., migration patterns, terrestrial wind) that causes offshore bat activity. This is mainly due to the physical and logistical constraints of collecting offshore bat data and the lack of offshore activities that require bat surveys and monitoring. Reviewing existing bat literature and data is important to characterize the affected environment for bats in the Master Plan and to identify the data gaps and future surveys and monitoring for developers when siting, constructing, and operating an offshore wind farm within the Offshore Study Area.

Cumulative Effects

The cumulative effect of the development of offshore wind projects is a topic of importance to a variety of stakeholders. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the lead federal agency to consider the cumulative environmental effect of a proposed action. To provide a platform and framework for discussing cumulative impacts of developing sites in the Offshore Study Area, this study will provide an analysis of the cumulative effects for key resources associated with potential sites. The analysis will assist NYSERDA with characterizing and addressing potential cumulative effects, and development of strategic plans and policies affecting offshore wind development.

The objectives of this study are to identify potential cumulative effects on key resources associated with the development of offshore wind energy sites and prepare a framework for future project-specific assessments of cumulative effects. Results of this study will characterize whether the full development of the Offshore Study Area can occur without significant adverse cumulative effects, and facilitate the cumulative effects analysis on individual projects under NEPA. Developing a cumulative effects analysis will provide a platform for discussing and addressing issues of importance to stakeholders and developers.

Environmental Sensitivity and Permitting Risk Analysis

This study will analyze the distribution of environmental parameters (e.g., marine mammal distribution, essential fish habitat) that are commonly used to evaluate environmental and permitting risks associated with wind development in the Offshore Study Area. This geographic information system mapping exercise will help identify sites with the least biological impact and risk in the Offshore Study Area.

The objective of this exercise is to develop map products and a weighting system that will allow for a comparative analysis of the potential risks of construction and operation of offshore wind facilities on marine resources at different locations within the Offshore Study Area. Risks will be evaluated in a species-specific context, as appropriate, and examine seasonal differences in site use by migratory organisms as data allow. Differences among stressors (e.g., construction, pile driving) will be captured in this exercise, and the outputs of the mapping will reflect these differences in risk to key marine resources. The resulting maps will indicate areas of biological importance, which will better inform developers, facilitate the identification of sites for offshore wind development, and potentially reduce the uncertainty and costs of their proposals.

Fish and Fisheries

New York State hosts a diverse commercial, for-hire, and recreational fishing industry in its marine waters, as well as a diverse marine ecosystem. To assess both the fish and fisheries in the Offshore Study Area, this study will create a compendium of existing socioeconomic and ecological fisheries data, determine the feasibility of updating priority data and present options to do so, and create a database of previous fisheries stakeholder engagement resources on offshore wind such as meeting summaries, reports, and data products. Ecological information to be collected includes fish and invertebrate population structure and distribution studies, and knowledge of potential impacts on essential fish habitat (EFH) or other sensitive habitats. The goal of the study is to engage fisheries stakeholders (i.e., industry and fishing group representatives, local anglers, resource managers, environmental NGOs, and others) throughout the process, vet new data products with stakeholders, and utilize information and feedback from stakeholders to develop best management practices for offshore wind in conjunction with the commercial, for-hire, and recreational fishing communities.

Grid Interconnection

The objective of this study is to conduct feasibility analyses of injecting offshore wind into various interconnection points in load zones J (New York City) and load zone K (Long Island) in New York State. The study intends to identify the maximum amount in megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy that can feasibly and reliably be interconnected at zones J and K for a minimum total of 2,400 MW, and the associated minimal conceptual cost to upgrade bulk and local transmission facilities to maintain reliability. The points of interconnection will be chosen from a list of identified substations. 

Health and Safety

The health and safety study will include a review of existing Federal and State legislation and codes, standards, best practice guidance and previous research, which may apply to the development, construction and operations of offshore wind energy projects in the State’s federal waters. This will be compared to the European environmentally harmful subsidies frameworks and working practices, and will identify regulatory, training and competency gaps that could manifest in risks and costs to U.S. projects, with a focus on New York State. Through this study, researchers will identify and describe best practice control mechanisms developed in countries with more mature offshore wind industries, which could be applied to developments in the State when the practices are compatible with the U.S. legal framework. These include the use of design risk management and design risk assessment as tools for capturing and mitigating life-cycle risks and reducing operational and asset management cost. 

Jobs and Economic Benefits

The study will aim to describe the approximate number of jobs created in the supply chain, what sort of jobs are created, and which jobs may be created locally. It will also identify and quantify the other probable sources of additional job creation due to investment in the U.S. by domestic companies or overseas offshore wind suppliers.

Marine Archaeology and Cultural Resources

There are numerous identified and unidentified archeological and cultural resources in the Offshore Study Area. Federal and State laws recognize the importance of such resources and provide mechanisms to ensure that they are considered in the actions of government agencies. The goal of this study is to assess the archaeology and cultural heritage of the Offshore Study Area. Both desktop and field research will be completed as part of the study. Background research and literature review is conducted prior to fieldwork and is composed of two essential pieces: the gathering and review of available cultural resource studies conducted within and near the Offshore Study Area, and the gathering and synthesis of existing historical research establishing the historic contexts for resources (known and unknown) within the study area. These two elements provide information that is necessary to conduct efficient and complete field data collection, by establishing a basic body of information about the resources that researchers can expect to encounter in the field.

Marine mammals and Sea Turtles

Understanding marine mammal and sea turtle presence, distribution, and use-patterns in the Offshore Study Area informs evaluation of potential impacts to these animals. This understanding is one element of the decision-making process for offshore wind development. This information can help facilitate the marine mammal permitting process under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Section 7 consultation process under the Endangered Species Act, reducing uncertainty and costs. The objective of this study is to summarize the existing marine mammal and sea turtle occurrence data and determine more specific North Atlantic right whale occurrence within and near the Offshore Study Area. Results of this study will provide information that will help reduce uncertainties associated with potential impacts to marine mammals and sea turtles, and should make it more cost effective for developers to plan and conduct site-specific marine mammal and sea turtle studies. In addition, a work plan will be developed for a passive acoustic monitoring study that may be conducted after the publication of the Master Plan.

Metocean Characterization Report

A strong knowledge of meteorological and oceanographical—metocean—conditions is essential for the safe and efficient design, and operation, of offshore installations. The Metocean Characterization Report is a desktop study characterizing the wind, wave, and ocean current environment of the Offshore Study Area. The report will include maps and tables to show wind speeds, significant wave heights, ocean current and storms tracks, as well as high-resolution wind data which will be presented in a series of maps. Wave, current and tide data, and storm tracks will be sourced from publicly available sources. The development of this report will facilitate the planning and refinement of potential project locations and turbine siting, while providing a reference study for future work such as the design of metocean monitoring campaigns and the design basis for the projects themselves.

Related resource: Metocean Fieldwork Plan for the New York State Offshore Study Area [PDF]

Onshore Permitting Constraints

As part of the Master Plan, this study assesses the existing onshore resources needed to determine areas of opportunity, sensitivity and risk associated with the site selection for cable landings of offshore wind farms. Onshore constraints can limit onshore permitting activities associated with offshore construction and operation of a wind energy system. The challenges associated with siting cable landing routes are mainly due to the presence of sensitive environmental resources, urban areas, and existing infrastructure, such as major highways. The goals of this study are to:

  • Characterize the existing onshore environment and nearshore area to determine areas of opportunity, sensitivity, and risk associated with cable landing site selection
  • Outline the onshore permitting process

The results of this study will provide a preliminary analysis of the potential onshore and nearshore environmental and physical opportunities and constraints to be considered when siting cable landing routes. It will provide a baseline for developers beginning site selection; reduce project planning costs; and expedite the onshore permit preparation process. This study will also provide a framework for the onshore permitting process that outlines requirements and potential resource issues of concern.

Pipelines, Cable, and Third Party Infrastructure

There are numerous power and communications cables and pipelines crossing the Offshore Study Area and/or potential transmission cable routes. To compare the constraints of each wind energy area under consideration, the volumes and types of co-incident infrastructure need to be identified and the cable and pipeline owners need to be engaged to determine relative impact. The study will assess the constraints to development posed by the identified assets including a review and assessment of current laws, guidance and standards related to offshore interactions with cables, pipelines and third-party infrastructure. An overview of the potential types of cable crossing scenarios, methodologies, and technologies available will also be provided as part of this study.

Ports and Supply Chain

A port assessment report will identify supply-chain organizations, illustrate the potential for job creation, and provide objective assessment of facilities for the State’s decision makers. Due to the advancement of wind turbine technologies and construction site capabilities over the past five years, this report will contain valuable updates related to how New York ports will be able to support staging for offshore wind project construction. The report will assess current port characteristics through various size metrics, account for navigational requirements, and weigh other potential obstacles or interferences to determine the current viability level for offshore wind operations. The report will also make probable cost determinations for ports that could be upgraded to support offshore wind construction staging in the future. 

Project Cost Projections

The objective of this task is to produce data on the expected costs and levelized cost of energy (LCOE). In addition, cost equations to determine the impact of depth, distance and wind speed on costs and LCOE will be produced. These equations will be used to calculate cost and LCOE based on spatial site conditions and to produce spatial data outputs to help identify potential offshore wind development sites. 

Recreational Uses

A variety of coastal and offshore recreational activities occur in and adjacent to the Offshore Study Area. Each recreational activity occurs in a unique geographic extent within the Offshore Study Area, and with to varying frequencies. Some existing datasets identify recreational activities’ general use areas as well as dominant use areas, where the activity occurs with greater frequency or among a larger user population. Current datasets, assessment reports, and surveys of recreational users characterize coastal and marine recreational activities along the Atlantic coast, but have not been assembled or synthesized specifically for the Offshore Study Area. The goal of the study is to assess the recreational uses that occur in and adjacent to the Offshore Study Area, reducing uncertainties about their location and frequency of occurrence. Results of this study will serve as a foundation to begin site selection, potentially reduce project planning costs, and expedite the offshore permit preparation process.

Sand and Gravel Resources

Offshore sand and gravel exists in enormous quantities on the U.S. continental shelf. However, due to various factors including the cost of transport over long distances, offshore mining is generally restricted to metropolitan centers. The goal of this analysis is to identify and map the locations of proposed, active, or inactive sand and gravel mining areas within and adjacent to the Offshore Study Area, and provide a context for the regulatory framework associated with the resource. The results of this study will help offshore wind developers understand potential areas of conflict associated with siting wind turbines and cable landing routes, and reduce project planning timelines and costs.

Shipping and Navigation

The siting of lease areas is used to demarcate sufficient space for wind farms to be located. The lease area is not the full extent of a wind farm, but does provide the necessary flexibility of a project developer to site the final wind farm area to further accommodate additional constraints such as potential risks to shipping and navigation. At the Master Planning stage, the lease area is helpful in identifying potential risks to marine shipping and navigation. These risks need to be identified and assessed appropriately to ensure the outcome of the assessment meets all navigation safety standards and regulatory compliance, and any proposed modification to the lease area boundary is acceptable to stakeholders. A final shipping and navigation report will describe the Master Plan’s approach to siting lease areas and how the process has considered current and future navigational hazards and risks. The report also explains the link between Master Planning and project level navigational risk assessments, and how they should be undertaken, based on national and international compliance requirements and best practices.

Vessels

A suitable installation vessel is a key enabler for the successful development of any large-scale wind farm. This study will examine the required functionality and financial considerations of a Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel and feeder barge. This study will attempt to clarify what kind of installation vessel could work with the local infrastructure, and determine what kind of work pipeline is required to support construction of such a vessel.

Visual Simulation

NYSERDA will undertake analysis to evaluate the potential visual impacts from offshore wind development. This will include considering various project scenarios including: distance from shore, light, sky, and weather conditions, time of year, prevailing wind direction, and various project sizes and layout.