NextEra Energy Transmission signs MOU with subsidiary of most-experienced offshore wind firm in Europe

Company officials feel alliance with WindGrid further cements NextEra as best choice to handle state’s RFP on offshore wind energy transmission

white wind turbine generating electricity on sea

The way Matt Valle sees it, the potential partnership of NextEra Energy Transmission MidAtlantic and WindGrid is a lot more than just one in which 1+1=3.

Valle, the president of NextEra Energy Transmission, feels bringing the most experienced offshore wind transmission company in the U.S. together with the subsidiary of the most experienced group in Europe, Elia Group, creates an impressive alliance — one with the know-how, industry contacts, supply-chain connections and redundances that will be needed to ensure the state’s request for a system capable of transmitting 7,500 megawatts of energy from offshore by 2035 will be met.

On Thursday, the two organizations announced they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to lay the foundation to work together to develop and construct offshore wind transmission infrastructure for New Jersey — if NextEra Energy is selected by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

NextEra Energy Transmission MidAtlantic is one of 13 companies bidding for the project. It has submitted a number of proposals, collectively called the N.J. Seawind Connector, to the BPU to support the transmission needed to achieve the state’s offshore wind goals.

The BPU has said it will make an announcement in early October.

Valle hopes the alliance is another check in the company’s favor.

“I look at this alliance bringing together the companies with the best experience in Europe and the best experience in the U.S.,” he said. “If you add up what we’ve been able to do, and then you marry that with the experience that WindGrid brings, I think it sets us apart even further from the rest of the competitors in terms of the ability to get this done.”

Valle notes that WindGrid’s parent company, Elia Group, already has enabled 5,000 megawatts and has 10,000 more in the pipeline — which, in total, would be twice as much as New Jersey is seeking.

Valle feels that type of experience pays off in a variety of ways — starting with the supply chain, which is growing in importance by the day.

“Think about our ability to leverage offshore wind vendors,” Valle said. “The world is supply constrained — ships are constrained; components are constrained — because there’s a heavy demand in Europe and in the U.S. right now. And it’s only going to grow.

“This brings together two companies that do a lot of work in this — we have the relationships.”

WindGrid builds on Elia Group’s unique offshore experience in both the North and Baltic seas in Europe.

To date, Elia Group has connected 13 wind farms to onshore grids and is currently operating three subsea cable interconnections. Elia Group is also working on new innovative projects such as hybrid interconnectors and energy islands.

WindGrid CEO Markus Laukamp said he feels the company is at the forefront of innovative approaches in offshore grid design and is well-positioned for playing a leading role in the shaping of future offshore grid projects. He hopes the next opportunity will come off the coast of New Jersey.

“We believe our offshore wind transmission experience will provide valuable insights and provide meaningful benefits if the NEETMA project is selected by the BPU,” he said. “Thanks to our industry-leading position in offshore electric transmission, we have access to and relationships with an extensive network of technical equipment suppliers with whom we collaborate to ensure we are integrating the latest technical innovations into each of our projects.

“Working with NEETMA, we expect to make a meaningful contribution to accelerating the energy transition in New Jersey.”

Valle said the partnerships will help the state meet its aggressive timeline of being up and running by the end of decade.

“There are going to be issues; there always are, we just don’t know what they are yet,” he said. “But, because we have the experience of having done this before, we’re going to be able to avoid some mistakes that somebody doing this for the first time would run into.

“I think that means a higher likelihood of the project coming in on schedule and under budget.”