Climate Act Offshore Wind New Uncertainty

This is a short post that illustrates my observation that any every component of the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (Climate Act) net-zero transition plans are more uncertain, more complicated, and likely more expensive than admitted by the Hochul Administration.  This example concerns off-shore wind development.

I have been following the Climate Act since it was first proposed. I submitted comments on the Climate Act implementation plan and have written over 300 articles about New York’s net-zero transition because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy embodied in the Climate Act outstrip available renewable technology such that the net-zero transition will do more harm than good.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Climate Act Background

The Climate Act established a New York “Net Zero” target (85% reduction and 15% offset of emissions) by 2050 and an interim 2030 target of a 40% reduction by 2030. The Climate Action Council is responsible for preparing the Scoping Plan that outlines how to “achieve the State’s bold clean energy and climate agenda.”  In brief, that plan is to electrify everything possible and power the electric gride with zero-emissions generating resources by 2040.  The Integration Analysis prepared by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and its consultants quantifies the impact of the electrification strategies.  That material was used to write a Draft Scoping Plan.  After a year-long review the Scoping Plan recommendations were finalized at the end of 2022.  In 2023 the Scoping Plan recommendations are supposed to be implemented through regulation and legislation.

The authors of the Climate Act included some arbitrary renewable energy development requirements.  The offshore wind mandate is 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035.  This is a big component of the capacity (10%) and energy produced (16%) in the Integration Analysis projections for the 2035 energy mix.  By 2040 the projections increase offshore wind capacity to between 12,675 MW and 15,358 MW and the energy produced to over 20% of the total GWhr.  On the other hand the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) 2021-2040 System & Resource Outlook does not add any additional offshore wind after the 2035 goal.

I believe the attraction of offshore wind for Climate Act proponents is its capacity factor.  The annual capacity factor equals the actual observed generation (MWh) divided by maximum possible generation (capacity (MW) times the 8,760 hours.  Offshore wind turbines are supposed to have capacity factors of over 45% which is more than double the Integration Analysis projection for solar capacity factors.  The high capacity factor is possible because there are no wind speed reductions due to rough terrain and the plan is to build huge turbines.  The U.S. Department of Energy says the cost of offshore-wind power has fallen by more than 50% since 2014, thanks largely to increasing scale.  Turbine output depends on the area of the circle swept by the blades and wind speed, which is stronger higher up. That means fewer turbines, and less raw material, for the same amount of power

How Big is Too Big?

The impetus for this post was two items that came across my desk on the same day.  A trade press outlook for New York renewable energy development claimed that the 132-MW South Fork Offshore Wind Project, being developed by Ørsted A/S and Eversource Energy, will start operations in 2023.  According to the facility website: “South Fork Wind brings unparalleled experience to Long Island. The 132 MW offshore wind farm will address East Hampton’s energy needs, producing enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes. When complete, the 12 turbines will be out of sight from East Hampton beaches. Construction started in early 2022.”  Dividing 132 MW by 12 turbines finds that they are building 11 MW turbines.

The second article How Big is Too Big for an Offshore Wind Turbine by Ed Ballard included the following figure that shows that offshore wind turbines are getting bigger over time.  It appears that the South Fork Wind 11 MW turbines will equal the forecast average turbine size in Europe.    However, the article points out there is a problem with these large turbines.

In particular, a renewable-energy insurance provider has reported “ that component failures in turbines with 8-megawatt capacity or greater occur on average after just over a year.”  According to their experience that compares with over five years for turbines of 4-to-8 megawatts.  The insurer, GCube, owned by Japan’s Tokio Marine HCC, report was based on its claims data and information from other market participants. The company says it has insured more than 100 gigawatts of renewables assets since the 1980s.

Ballard writes:

Some problems reflect the rapid introduction of new models. Losses from defective materials or workmanship, electrical failures and gearbox failures are rising, GCube said.  Other issues show how larger turbines are testing the industry’s supply chain. Some 55% of claims involved turbines of 8 megawatts or more and occurred during the construction phase, reflecting the difficulty of handling them, GCube said.

The average claim size has increased from 1 million pounds, worth approximately $1.25 million, in 2012, to over $7 million. GCube said that is down to the cost of parts and repairs on larger systems. Only a few of the vessels that install turbines can handle the largest ones, and diverting them for repair jobs is expensive.


The Integration Analysis provided the quantitative support for the Scoping Plan control strategies.  However, the Scoping Plan just provides a list of possible strategies that the Integration Analysis modeling claims provides the emission reductions necessary to meet the Climate Act net-zero transition targets.  The State’s analysts have yet to do a feasibility analysis that shows how all the component pieces will work together and evaluates the timeline.  The ultimate problem is that even a feasibility analysis is dependent upon projections of future resource development using new technologies.  The problem described here is one of the lessons learned that I think are difficult to incorporate into a feasibility analysis projection but will have significant impacts.

There are a couple of offshore wind ramifications.  I doubt that the cost of insurance was included in the cost projections for offshore wind development buried in the Integration Analysis modeling and I am certain that there was no documentation explicitly listing what costs were included in the offshore wind projections.  I suspect that increased insurance costs were not included in the developer plans. More importantly, the big attraction of offshore wind turbines that are larger than 10 MW was the high capacity factor.  If there are component failures and issues making repairs, then the capacity factor benefits will be wiped out.  That affects the energy production estimates which in turn affects the amount of capacity needed to keep the lights on. 


South Fork Wind expects to come on line in 2023.  The failure rate of the 11 MW turbines being installed hasn’t been publicly considered by the developer or the Hochul Administration.  I am sure when South Shore Wind comes on line and starts producing power that there will be press releases claiming that this is proof that the net-zero transition is on target.  If there are component failures that news will be buried.  Worse, the startup of offshore wind generation will be used to argue that existing fossil fired power plants can be shut down despite the unknown reliability performance of this new technology.

Author: rogercaiazza

I am a meteorologist (BS and MS degrees), was certified as a consulting meteorologist and have worked in the air quality industry for over 40 years. I author two blogs. Environmental staff in any industry have to be pragmatic balancing risks and benefits and ( reflects that outlook. The second blog addresses the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision initiative ( Any of my comments on the web or posts on my blogs are my opinion only. In no way do they reflect the position of any of my past employers or any company I was associated with.

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