Murphy confident N.J. can be hub of offshore wind energy on East Coast

Gov. Phil Murphy is confident New Jersey can become the hub of offshore wind energy on the East Coast.

Murphy said as much when speaking to reporters after an offshore wind roundtable luncheon hosted by Senvion — a wind turbine manufacturer based in Hamburg — Wednesday in Berlin.

Murphy, on Day Two of his nine-day trade mission trip to Germany and Israel, showed off some of his knowledge of the economy of Germany, where he previously served as U.S. ambassador.

“Hamburg is really the global ground zero for wind,” he said. “Both onshore — and there’s a lot more onshore in Germany than offshore.

“I’d like to at least get a piece of that, or, to become, say, a twin, but more importantly to become the offshore center.

“I think they’ve got 10 times as much onshore as they’ve got off. We won’t have onshore to any degree in New Jersey. Our opportunity is all offshore.”

The race to capturing offshore wind is part of Murphy’s goal of creating an innovation economy.

That race, he said, is with Massachusetts. And Murphy admits Massachusetts is ahead of New Jersey right now.

“We are behind, in the innovation economy … but we have everything, we believe, at our disposal to catch up,” he said. “Massachusetts has done a particularly good job of that.”

Offshore wind is an area where New Jersey can gain ground.

“I’m confident of that,” he said. “We have not missed that boat.”

At the roundtable Wednesday, Murphy was asked by attendees how he is so confident of the state’s ability to have a robust offshore wind market, considering the “national-level government is less focused on” offshore wind energy.

Murphy replied that, in fact, the federal government has announced new leases for offshore wind. But that doesn’t reduce the threat of offshore oil and gas drilling, he said.

“It’s fair to say … absent any friction … the (President Donald) Trump administration has said it wants the right to drill for oil and gas offshore,” he said. “Not just in New Jersey … but up and down both coasts. So, that led our front office to work with legislative leaders to get a bill that I signed which would prohibit that from happening.”

That will not prevent from a potential oil spill from another state from affecting New Jersey’s coast, in the long run, but it’s as much as the governor can do, he said.

Read all of ROI-NJ’s coverage of Gov. Murphy’s trip: