First US Offshore Wind Substation Project Launched
Late last month, offshore wind joint development partners Ørsted and Eversource announced the commencement of the first-ever American-built offshore wind substation.
The substation will be designed and constructed by offshore fabricator Kiewit Offshore Services, Ltd. and will later be deployed at the developer’s South Fork Wind project—New York’s first offshore wind farm.
“Achieving our nation's clean energy goals will be largely dependent on U.S.-based companies like Kiewit, and we are excited to partner with them to deliver the first U.S.-made offshore wind substation,” said Joe Nolan, Chief Executive Officer and President of Eversource Energy.
“Our partnership with Kiewit marks another significant milestone for the U.S. offshore wind industry and signals the growth of the next great maritime industry throughout the country. We are committed to creating a clean energy future and fostering opportunities for all Americans.”
South Fork Wind Project
According to a press release issued by South Fork Wind, the 1,500-ton, 60-foot-tall substation will be built at Kiewit’s facility in Ingleside, Texas. In total, the substation will be capable of generating 132 megawatts and will consist of a topside resting on a mono-pile foundation.
Once in operation, the substation will collect the power produced by wind turbines and connect the clean energy to the grid.
Kiewit is reportedly the first American contractor to fabricate a wind farm’s offshore substation.
“The production of clean energy is at a pivotal stage in the U.S., and offshore wind, such as the South Fork Wind project, plays a very important role,” said Paul Geldmeier, who leads Kiewit’s offshore wind power work as Executive Vice President, Kiewit Energy. “We are proud to contribute our engineering and construction expertise and experience to this industry-first project.”
Throughout the design and construction phases of the projects, Kiewit reports that it will be employing more than 350 fabrication workers from Ingleside, Houston and Kansas. In addition, the company plans to hire hundreds of union workers in the Northeast to support the project, as well as other initiatives in the region.
“We’re helping to build a new U.S. manufacturing industry that will create thousands of good-paying jobs not just in the Northeast but in communities across the United States,” said David Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of Ørsted Offshore North America.
“We’re proud to partner with Kiewit to deliver the first American-made offshore wind substation. This initiative is part of our commitment to deliver for our long-term partners, combining international experience with local expertise in communities across the country.”
Construction on the substation is slated to being in November, with a competition date eyed for spring 2023. Then, crews intend to transport the substation across the Gulf of Mexico and up the East Coast for installation at the South Fork Wind site in the summer of 2023.
South Fork Wind adds that the joint development is continuing to advance though through the federal permitting process, having recently received its final Environmental Impact Statement on Aug. 16 from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The developers add that South Fork Wind remains on-track to be fully permitted in early 2022, with construction activities expected to ramp up soon after.
Ørsted & U.S. Wind Energy Plans
Earlier this summer, in June, Danish wind farm developer Ørsted announced its commitment to recover, reuse and/or recycle all turbine blades in its worldwide portfolio of wind farms once they have been decommissioned.
The decision arrives as the company reports that it has “a clear responsibility to help find solutions to the challenge of recycling blades.”
While the shift to wind farms—both on and offshore—is being adopted all over the globe, the answer of what to do with retired wind blades is still a challenge. Due to the composite materials blades are made from, recycling the wind turbine blades has proved challenging, oftentimes resulting in landfill placement.
Despite the challenges of determining recover, reuse and recycle solutions, Ørsted reports that between 85% and 95% of a wind turbine can be recycled. However, due to their lightweight and durable designs, the blades remain a challenge to recycle properly.
Regardless, Ørsted has committed to not make use of landfilling for decommissioned wind turbine blades and plans to “temporarily store” retired blades, should finding a solution to recycle them takes “longer to solve than anticipated.”
The commitment to this incitive was made on the company’s Capital Markets Day and is part of its strategy to expand its sustainability position and work toward achieving a carbon-neutral footprint by 2040.
Thus far, Ørsted has only decommissioned the offshore wind farm Vindeby in Denmark, where the blades from the 11 wind turbines were all reused.
Orsted, Vestas and LM Wind Power—which is part of GE Renewable Energy—are also part of the DecomBlades consortium, an initiative focused on blade recycling.
The month before the announcement, in May, the Biden administration announced the approval for construction and operation of Vineyard Wind 1, the nation’s first large-scale offshore windfarm.
More than three years ago, Vineyard Wind's joint project owners Avangrid Inc. (a subsidiary of Avangrid, which is part of the Iberdrola Group) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners began its federal permit process for Vineyard Wind 1. However, according to reports, the permit process was met by a string of delays involving concerns over disrupted commercial fishing operations.
To mediate these concerns, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made several key changes since submitting the project’s final environmental review in March, which includes the prohibition of installing turbines in locations closest to the coast and reducing the number of turbines from 100 to 84 or fewer. Additional changes also require that the turbines be constructed no less than 1 nautical mile apart to ease navigation and that a federal program is established to study the project's effect on scientific fishery surveys.
In 2019, the Interior Department put a pause on the project by extending the environmental study in August. Now approved, the Vineyard Wind 1 has been sited for construction over 160,000 acres of leased property roughly 12 nautical miles from the shoreline of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Estimated to have a $2.8 billion price tag, joint venture Iberdrola and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners have already been tapped for the project.
Made up of as many as 84 turbines, once completed, the offshore windfarm will generate roughly 800 megawatts of energy, or enough to power about 400,000 homes and businesses in the New England area, removing 1.6 million tons of carbon emissions from the air per year.
Most of Vineyard Wind's components will be manufactured in Europe, however, due to the lack of a U.S. supply chain for the domestic industry, the company noted, but has since reported that the facility has confirmed the use of GE Renewable Energy’s huge Haliade-X turbines. The decision for using GE means that the project should only require up to 62 turbines.
Work on Vineyard Wind 1 is expected to launch as early as this year, creating some 3,600 jobs, with the goal of delivering electricity to the grid during the second half of 2023.
The project is reported to run in line with President Joe Biden’s—alongside the U.S. Department of Interior, Department of Energy and Department of Commerce—plans to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in America by 2030, while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use.