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Vineyard Wind Marks ‘Steel in the Water’ at Nation’s First Big Offshore Wind Farm

Orion. Photo courtesy Vineyard Wind/DEME

Vineyard Wind Marks ‘Steel in the Water’ at Nation’s First Big Offshore Wind Farm

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4317
June 9, 2023

The developer of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm has announced the start of offshore construction, marking a major milestone in the project.

“We can finally say it – as of today, there is ‘steel in the water,’” said Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus S. Moeller.

Located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project will generate electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts.

Construction is kicking off with the installation of the first monopiles and transition pieces performed by the Belgian-flagged heavy lift vessel Orion, which is being operated by DEME. The vessel will work alongside a number of other vessels throughout this summer to install 62 foundations in the wind development area. The project will use GE Renewables’ 13MW Haliade-X turbines, known as the world’s largest.

“Over the next few months, we’ll be working hand in glove with the Building Trades and our contractors to ensure the work is done safely and efficiently.  I want to thank all of our stakeholders and the entire Vineyard Wind team for this remarkable achievement on this first in the nation project,” said Moeller.

In addition to the existing crew, the Orion will use local union piledrivers who have received special training for the scope of work.

Vineyard Wind is a joint venture between AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR), and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP).

“After receiving the first turbine components in New Bedford last week, Avangrid’s Vineyard Wind 1 project has achieved another historic milestone for offshore wind in the United States as we begin foundation installation,” said Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra. “We’re proud that local union piledrivers are playing a critical role in the installation of the monopiles and transition pieces in the project area as we pioneer this new American industry.”

As part of the installation process, Vineyard Wind has also contracted the OSV Atlantic Oceanic and the Northstar Navigator which will be used deploy a primary and secondary bubble curtain. The bubble curtain is comprised of large, perforated hoses and specialized air compressors, designed to absorb and dampen sound during foundation installation. The hoses are placed on the seafloor around the monopile before being filled by compress air. Once the hoses are inflated, the air escapes through the perforations and creates a barrier of bubbles that reduce noise.

In addition, three local fishing vessels, the F/V TORBAY, F/V SOCATEAN and the F/V KATHRYN MARIE, will be onsite to serve as safety and communication sentries. The project will deploy a Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) system comprised of fixed buoys to be used for real-time underwater acoustic monitoring to detect marine mammals during pile driving work. The buoys will be deployed and retrieved by the F/V BETH ANNE before mobilizing to the next foundation location.

“We look forward cooperating with all stakeholders and US partners in the construction of this first large-scale offshore wind project in US waters, including the local union workers who will participate in the installation work under the project labor agreement,” said Sid Florey, President DEME Offshore US. “DEME Offshore has contracted with local US vessels and crews to be deployed for mitigation of noise emissions as well as marine mammal observations.”

Estimates say the project is expected to create 3,600 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) job years, save customers $1.4 billion over the first 20 years of operation, and will reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 325,000 cars off the road annually.

The milestone was welcomed by Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey.

“Our administration is grateful for the important work being done by Vineyard Wind, Avangrid, CIP, DEME and labor partners to bring clean, affordable energy to Massachusetts,” said Maura Healey. “We’re thrilled to see this historic project move one step closer to completion and committed to supporting the offshore wind industry across the state.”

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