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Equinor Breaks Ground in Brooklyn for Offshore Wind Hub

A rendering shows how the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal could look in 2026. (Equinor)

Posted on June 14, 2024

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Elizabeth Yeampierre stood near the edge of the Brooklyn waterfront earlier this week. A vast concrete lot stretched out before her, riddled with weeds and rain puddles, as the Manhattan skyline sparkled in the distance. For years, Yeampierre has fought to transform this vacant expanse into a hub for clean-energy industries — one that could bring much-needed jobs to the surrounding neighborhood of Sunset Park.

Now, that’s finally starting to happen.

On Monday, construction began on an offshore wind facility at the 73-acre lot known as the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Equinor, the Norwegian energy giant, will use the site to receive and ship out the enormous wind turbines that it plans to install in the Atlantic Ocean. When completed in 2026, the facility will be one of the largest dedicated hubs serving offshore wind, a crucial energy industry that’s slowly emerging in the United States.

It’s a landmark achievement, and it shows that we can become a model of a just transition,” Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE, said during a ground-breaking event. The grassroots organization primarily serves residents in Sunset Park, a largely working-class neighborhood of Asian, Latino, and immigrant communities.

An industrial sector that has had a long history in our communities of toxic exposure is now taking seriously our vision of a green reindustrialization,” Yeampierre said.

Later, she clutched a ceremonial shovel alongside New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) and other speakers beneath the blazing sun. Workers here will assemble and maintain the towers, blades, and components used for offshore wind installations, starting with Equinor’s 810-megawatt Empire Wind 1 project near Long Island. Subsea cables will connect that wind farm to the Brooklyn terminal’s new substation, delivering enough clean electricity to supply 500,000 homes.

Elizabeth Yeampierre of UPROSE (pictured far right) joins a ceremonial ground-breaking at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on June 10, 2024. (Maria Gallucci/Canary Media)

The $861 million project is expected to create over 1,000 union construction jobs and apprenticeships, while supporting a smaller number of permanent roles both on-site and aboard marine vessels that service the East Coast’s growing fleet of towering turbines. Community leaders say they’re watching closely to ensure those jobs actually go to Sunset Park residents as promised.

We’ve got to be on top of it,” Alexa Avilés, a New York City council member (D) who represents and lives in Sunset Park, told Canary Media on the sidelines of the event. ​Because it’s something that could slip by and we look back and see only a handful [of local jobs], and that would be a travesty.”

One gust forward, two blows back

Construction is starting at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal during what continues to be a roller-coaster ride for the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry.

In recent years, high interest rates, choked supply chains, and local opposition efforts have seriously delayed or ended offshore wind developments in New York and across the Eastern Seaboard. At the same time, companies continue to make progress on a handful of milestone projects. In March, Ørsted132-MW South Fork Wind Farm officially opened near Long Island, becoming America’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm.

All told, the United States has installed at least 240 MW of operating offshore wind capacity off the coasts of New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Virginia. That amounts to roughly 1 percent of the Biden administration’s goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by the end of this decade.

Equinor has hardly been spared from the industry whiplash. In 2019, the developer secured a long-term agreement to deliver electricity from Empire Wind 1 to New York state. But last year, as rising project costs threatened to derail the project, Equinor sought to make inflation-related adjustments to its contract with the state. Although its first attempt was unsuccessful, the company later secured a new offtake agreement with more favorable financial terms — a deal that was finalized on June 4.

This has not been an easy journey, from the pandemic to geopolitical and economic challenges,” Molly Morris, president of Equinor Renewables America, said at Monday’s event. ​But Empire Wind has weathered the ups and downs.”

Molly Morris of Equinor attributed the “revitalization” of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal to community leaders in Sunset Park. (Tiger Stripe Media)

The roller coaster is certain to spiral even further if Donald Trump, a staunch wind-energy opponent, is elected president again in November. For now, however, President Joe Biden is working to expand the nation’s offshore wind development, including by leasing new federal tracts in the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Gulf of Maine.


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