The first offshore construction season is now complete for America’s first offshore wind farm, with all five steel jacket foundations fully installed at the Block Island Wind Farm site. Construction crews installed the last deck platform on November 21. All of the construction and crew vessels associated with the operation have now demobilized from the site.
“From the first ‘steel in the water’ in July to the last deck lift in November, we’ve completed a season of firsts – not only for the Block Island Wind Farm but also for the launch of a new American offshore wind industry,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished so far, but we’ve only just begun – and 2016 will be a year to remember.”
“Rhode Island is proud to be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm, and we’re quickly becoming a center of innovation in this growing industry,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “With this project, we’re putting hundreds of our local workers to work at-sea and at our world-class ports to build a project that will help diversify Rhode Island’s energy mix and protect our environment. I applaud Deepwater Wind for their successful first offshore construction season, and I look forward to seeing the project fully operational and generating renewable energy in 2016.
Over the course of the busy 18-week construction period, approximately 200 workers (100 of them local) and a dozen construction and transport barges, tugboats, crew ships and monitoring vessels were active at the project’s port facilities and the wind farm site roughly three miles off the coast of Block Island.
All told, more than 300 local workers will be involved with building the Block Island Wind Farm. Deepwater Wind is utilizing four Rhode Island ports – at Block Island, Galilee, Quonset Point and the Port of Providence – to complete construction and staging.
All construction activities were completed in accordance with strict environmental rules set by state and federal government agencies. In 2013, Deepwater Wind voluntarily agreed to a series of protective measures to minimize potential underwater noise impacts on North Atlantic right whales during wind farm construction.
“We are especially proud that our work was done while upholding very high environmental standards,” Grybowski said.
The focus this winter and spring now turns to turbine assembly and submarine cable installation work.
Deepwater Wind and General Electric are establishing a new temporary manufacturing facility at the Port of Providence for the assembly of turbine components. GE – which recently completed its acquisition of Alstom’s offshore wind unit – is supplying the 6-MW Haliade 150 offshore wind turbines for the Block Island Wind Farm. Approximately 60 local workers will be involved in this aspect of the project.
Over the next six months, GE will install the critical electrical, mechanical, and safety equipment within the bottom tower sections now at ProvPort, with the remaining tower sections arriving in Rhode Island next year. (Each turbine tower consists of three sections, with a total height of approximately 270 feet, and a total weight of approximately 440 tons, once assembled.)
The assembly activities at ProvPort will complement construction and staging work completed at Quonset Point, in North Kingstown, R.I. Fabrication of some of the foundation components was completed by local welders at Quonset’s Specialty Diving Services in early 2015, and the port continues to host construction work and vessel staging for the wind farm. Quonset will also host the project’s long-term operations and maintenance facility.
Submarine cable installation is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016, with erection of the five offshore wind turbines set for the summer of 2016. The project is scheduled to be in-service and generating power in the fourth quarter of 2016.