Ørsted Offshore North America, the Danish company that won the right to build an offshore wind farm about 12 miles southeast of Atlantic City in the Atlantic Ocean, has a new leader with New Jersey roots.
David Hardy, a 49-year-old American and Navy veteran, said Thursday he will make sure the company fulfills all of its promises to create jobs in offshore wind equipment manufacturing and supply chain services.
Hardy was born in the Fort Monmouth/Eatontown area of Monmouth County, but moved around the country growing up as his father was in the military.
He has replaced Thomas Brostrøm, the Dane who has been with the company 11 years and led its U.S. offshore wind efforts since 2015. Brostrøm will soon move back to Europe to become the leader of a global energy company, according to Ørsted.
Hardy has spoken to State Senate President Steve Sweeney about Sweeney’s concerns that Ørsted hasn’t worked fast enough to set up manufacturing and supply chain businesses in New Jersey.
“I have met him a few times and had lot of conversations with him already,” Hardy said. “There really are going to be a lot of jobs in manufacturing ... but these are long cycle projects worth billions of dollars. They take time to materialize.”
Ørsted made promises about job creation to win a competitive process, arranging for ratepayers to subsidize construction of New Jersey’s first 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind generation.
Sweeney and other legislators have said they are particularly concerned that Ørsted has not yet made headway on a promised agreement with a German firm to locate a factory for manufacturing monopole foundations in Salem County. Monopoles are the foundations for the large wind turbines.
“I welcome the new leadership at Ørsted. This will offer an opportunity for a renewed commitment to the state of New Jersey to create and retain good-paying jobs in a sector of the economy that has the potential to continue to grow,” Sweeney said in a written statement Friday. “I expect Ørsted to keep its promises to set up manufacturing and supply-chain businesses in New Jersey that are tied to the windfarms.”
Ocean Wind is being constructed in federal waters and federal permits have been delayed by about a year for the U.S. to complete a study on the cumulative effect of all proposed wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean on the environment, Hardy said.
The federal study has been released and is supportive of continuing with the projects, but “they still haven’t restarted the permitting process,” Hardy said.
“It is difficult to make big investments in New Jersey until we have clarity. I have tried to explain that to Sen. Sweeney and others. He is on a mission — I appreciate what he is trying to do,” Hardy said.
Hardy said he expects to move forward in the next few weeks and more directly respond to Sweeney’s concerns.
“Coming in as an American, I have a little better understanding of the American business landscape and culture,” Hardy said. “I’m trying to make sure we bring that point of view back to the corporate folks in Denmark.”
Hardy joined Ørsted in March as chief operating officer, just as the COVID-19 epidemic started.
He was hired with the understanding that he would be Brostrom’s likely successor, he said. It just happened a little earlier than he might have expected.
Hardy lives in Boston, is married and has two young children at home, and three older teens and young adult children living in other states, he said.
Prior to joining Ørsted, he worked for Danish turbine manufacturer Vestas out of Portland, Oregon; and for Senvion in Hamburg, Germany. Senvion has been sold to Siemens Gamesa, Hardy said.
There will be plenty of demand for new turbines in the United States, and a wide variety of products needed to build and service them, Hardy said.
There are commitments for 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy generation by the Middle Atlantic and Northeastern states by 2035.
“We have 42 (MW) spinning offshore in the U.S.,” Hardy said. “Six thousand are contracted — 1,100 plus for New Jersey — and we have about 50% of that or 3,000 megawatts.”
“David’s strong commercial experience and deep knowledge of the wind power industry will be a huge asset for Orsted, and for an industry that is poised to become a dominant source of energy for millions of Americans,” said Martin Neubert, global executive vice president and CEO of Orsted Offshore Wind, the parent company of the North America group.
Orsted was the first European offshore wind developer to enter the U.S. market in 2015, and since then, the company has become the country’s largest with six projects representing nearly 3,000 MW of energy development.
Orsted operates Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm, America’s first offshore wind farm, and constructed the two-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project — the first turbines to be installed in federal waters.
Orsted’s North American Offshore business is jointly headquartered in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, and employs more than 150 people.