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National Grid steps into Northeast wind arena

A division of National Grid has entered the race to develop offshore wind in the Northeast.

National Grid Ventures has partnered with RWE Renewables to explore sections of ocean designated by the federal government for offshore wind development. Most of those sections are between New York and New Jersey now, but the Biden administration is expected to carve out more ocean off of the Northeast for wind turbines before the end of the year.

“We're bringing complementary capabilities and expertise to this partnership. So National Grid will bring the local expertise in the Northeast, along with experience developing large scale infrastructure projects, including industry leading subsea cable capabilities,” said Hilary Flynn, head of U.S. offshore wind at National Grid Ventures. “And then RWE will bring its wealth of experience in global offshore wind project development.”

Internationally, National Grid has set up underwater transmission systems to facilitate the transfer of renewable energy between the UK and Europe. Over the past 20 years, RWE has built and operated renewable energy projects in Europe and Asia.

“While we are an established presence in the U.S. with our onshore wind, solar and storage activities, this partnership will support RWE’s plans to realize a sizeable position in the offshore wind space,” said Sven Utermöhlen, RWE’s chief operating officer for offshore wind globally.

The two companies said they will wait for federal regulators to finalize the next round of offshore wind leasing areas before announcing any formal proposal or how much power they seek to generate.

Their goal, in part, is to build renewable energy to reduce the need for fossil fuels — including National Grid’s regulated natural gas distribution.

Last fall, National Grid released its net zero by 2050 plan to reduce energy demand, decarbonize the gas network with “renewable” natural gas and hydrogen and reduce emissions.

“For the U.S. Northeast, offshore wind will be the single largest source of clean energy for consumers,” Flynn said. “And National Grid wants to be part of that.”