New York State is striving to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. To accomplish this, the expansion and diversification of renewable resources is critical. Renewable energy goals, such as New York’s, are an essential strategy to promote this change, and offshore wind farms are a key element for meeting the State’s renewable energy needs. However, the benefits and effects of offshore wind energy development must be evaluated in the context of other maritime activities and their combined effects on the environment.
Marine ecosystems are dynamic, with daily, seasonal, and annual variation in environmental conditions and in wildlife distributions. Many marine areas are heavily used for transportation, resource extraction, military exercises, and other activities1. Land-based human activities also impact marine ecosystems, such as coastal development and pollutants that make their way into oceans.
Offshore wind energy development is a new industry in the U.S. that is being introduced into this highly dynamic and human-influenced system. As such, it is important to consider the environmental and economic impacts of offshore wind within this context, and to understand—and try to minimize—conflicts among human uses, while protecting natural resources that are ecologically and economically important. New York State is committed to pursuing renewable energy development responsibly, and is using a range of strategies to accomplish this goal.