After weeks of negative developments and reports questioning the viability of the U.S. offshore wind industry, Iberdrola Group’s Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners are highlighting advancements at the Vineyard Ward 1 project as a demonstration of the industry’s progress. A little over a month after the first turbine was moved from the staging facility in Massachusetts, the installation was completed.
The first of 62 GE Haliade-X Wind Turbine Generator has been successfully installed at the site which is 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Each of the turbines will have a capacity of 13 MW with the project slated to have a total capacity of 806 MW. The companies note that the fully assembled machine, which is comprised of one tower, three blades, and one nacelle, represents the largest turbine in the Western world.
“This is a monumental achievement and a proud day for offshore wind in the United States that proves this industry is real and demonstrates Avangrid’s steadfast commitment to helping the Northeast region meet its clean energy and climate goals,” said Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra. “While this is a landmark for this first-in-the-nation project and the industry, we remain focused on the important work ahead to continue the successful installation campaign of these massive turbines and deliver the first power to Massachusetts homes and businesses this year.”
Avangrid looks to use these developments to offset some of the negative reports after the company reached agreements with both Massachusetts and Connecticut to walk away from power purchase agreements for two other wind farms that are currently in the permitting and pre-development stage. Avangrid agreed to pay fines in both states and to have the Commonwealth Wind and Park City Wind projects rebid in future solicitations. Shell and OceanWinds, a joint venture between EDP Renewables and ENGIE, similarly agreed during the summer to cancel the power purchase agreement for SouthCoast Wind also planned for Massachusetts. New York regulators last week also refused three petitions from wind farm developers to adjust power purchase agreements.
Vineyard Wind’s first turbine installation has been completed
“Having the first offshore wind turbine in the water for the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S. is an important symbolic milestone for our company, our customers, and our industry,” said Jan Kjaersgaard, CEO of GE Vernova Offshore Wind.
Vineyard Wind began offshore construction in late 2022. It achieved steel-in-the-water in June and the wind farm’s substation was completed in July. The company has projected that the first turbines will begin generating power before the end of this year and the project will be completed in 2024.
To meet the U.S. Jones Act requirements, the project is using a broad partnership with the staging of its materials at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal and transported to the location off the coast of Cape Cod by Foss Maritime. Working with DEME Offshore US, Foss designed and built two 400-foot-long highly specialized US-flagged barges to transport the components to the lease area. They are the only two barges in existence capable of transporting in an upright position GE’s massive Haliade-X turbine components that when constructed will rise more than 700 feet.
DEME Group’s Sea Installer vessel is stationed 65 miles from New Bedford south of Martha’s Vineyard handling the installations. Sea Installer, which measures more than 430 feet in length and 150 feet wide, is a heavy lift jack-up crane vessel that lifts itself out of the water on legs that are over 300 feet in length.
Both Vineyard Wind 1 and South Fork Wind are moving forward in construction while Dominion has begun shipment of monopiles for its Virginia offshore wind farm and Ørsted has begun onshore work in New Jersey for Revolution Wind. These developments have led the analysts at Intelatus to reiterate its forecast for over 70 projects that will install close to 87 GW of capacity by the 2040s and 110 GW by 2050. In the U.S. they see continued efforts by the federal government and, in particular, the East Coast states to find solutions to the challenges faced by the industry.