An international energy company building two offshore wind farms in the New York area has opened a technology hub and accelerator program at Industry City meant to foster innovation in the local climate-tech sector.

The Offshore Wind Innovation Hub opened applications Monday for its first accelerator class. The hub is a combined effort of Equinor and BP, with Equinor handling the actual operations. Equinor, headquartered in Norway, is behind the Empire Wind project off of Jones Beach and the Beacon Wind project 60 miles east of Montauk Point.

The company said both projects together should be able to power a total of 2 million homes when they are up and running.

In the meantime, there are tech solutions around the use of wind energy that require innovation, such as advances in safety and fabrication, said Jennifer Edwards, community and environmental manager for Equinor.

Those will be the subject of projects by entrepreneurs Equinor is hoping to attract to the accelerator. The first cohort, the company said, will accept companies that are working on optimizing the process for permitting and surveying data collection; improving site selection; optimizing production or construction and installation; solving power transmission challenges; and working on safety problems. 

In addition to the two energy companies, partners in the tech hub include the Urban Future Lab at New York University’s Tandon engineering school and the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, which is providing the curriculum. The New York City Economic Development Corp. plans to provide support as well.

Equinor said it hoped to develop close relationships with the four to six companies that will be in the first cohort at the accelerator and would have the chance to make investments, though granting equity is not a requirement for participation. Each cohort will be in the program for six months, the company said, with the first session kicking off in June. Applications are due by March 27.

The overall goal, Edwards said, is to build a wind-tech industry in New York, centered around Equinor’s office in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal.  

“The hub is close to the project office” for Beacon and Empire, Edwards said. “So there will mentorship from our experts.”

The hub also will play host to other kinds of wind-tech programming and be available as a coworking space to those in the industry, she said. The project is scheduled to last for three years.

New York state is planning to have all its electricity be powered by non-carbon sources by 2040. In 2021 New York boasted the third-lowest per-capita energy consumption of any state, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

This is an article from Crain’s New York Business Journal published on January 24th, 2023; See the original article here.

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