Wind Farm Produces First Energy Delivery

TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2024


Sustainable energy company Group Avangrid, Inc. recently announced that one wind turbine from the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts has delivered power to the New England grid for the first time.

A release from Vineyard Wind states the new turbine is part of a project to install five fully functioning turbines in early 2024, delivering about five megawatts of power during the initial commissioning process. Additional testing is reportedly expected to occur both on and offshore in the coming weeks. 

Project Background

In May 2021, President Joe Biden’s administration announced the approval for construction and operation of Vineyard Wind 1

“A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States,” said Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, at the time. “The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combatting climate change and powering our nation.”

Years before the announcement, Vineyard Wind's joint project owners Avangrid Inc. 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, which included 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 required 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. Then approved, the Vineyard Wind 1 was cited 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 had already been tapped for the project.

Most of Vineyard Wind's components were to be be manufactured in Europe, however, due to the lack of a U.S. supply chain for the domestic industry, the company noted, but then reported that the facility confirmed the use of GE Renewable Energy’s huge Haliade-X turbines. The decision to use GE means that the project would reportedly only require up to 62 turbines.

The project is reported to run in line with President Biden’s—alongside the U.S. Department of Interior, Department of Energy and Department of Commerce—planned to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in America by 2030, while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use.

According to the President’s Fact Sheet, if the target was met it would “trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in projects on both U.S. coasts, create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, with more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity.”

Then, in November of the same year, U.S. officials broke ground for the construction of Vineyard Wind 1. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in Covell’s Beach, Barnstable, with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Representative Bill Keating.

Work began with the building of two transmission cables to connect the offshore wind facility to the mainland.

Vineyard Wind 1 was reportedly expected to contribute to the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and Massachusetts’ goal of 5.6 gigawatts within the same timeline. It was reportedly built by union labor and created hundreds of jobs.

Latest Update

The 806-megawatt project is reportedly located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and will connect to the New England grid in Barnstable, transmitted by underground cables connecting to a substation inland on Cape Cod.

Once fully finished, the almost $4 billion project is expected to have 62 wind turbines working to generate 806 Megawatts, enough energy to reportedly run over 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts.

According to a report from the Boston Herald, five of these 62 turbines are expected to be constructed and running sometime this year.

"This is a historic moment for the American offshore wind industry. Soon, Vineyard Wind will be producing power equivalent of over 400,000 Massachusetts households,” said Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey.

“This is clean, affordable energy made possible by the many advocates, public servants, union workers, and business leaders who worked for decades to accomplish this achievement. As we look ahead, Massachusetts is on a path toward energy independence thanks to our nation-leading work to stand up the offshore wind industry."

Vineyard Wind 1 is reportedly jointly owned by Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners through its flagship fund, CI II and III. The project is reportedly being developed by Avangrid and Vineyard Offshore, CIP’s affiliate development company working on U.S. offshore projects.

“2023 was a historic year for offshore wind defined by steel in the water and people at work. Today, we begin a new chapter and welcome 2024 by delivering the first clean offshore wind power to the grid in Massachusetts,” Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra said in a release from the company.

“We’ve arrived at a watershed moment for climate action in the U.S., and a dawn for the American offshore wind industry. As we build on this tremendous progress and work to deliver the full capacity of this historic project, we continue to stand proudly with all the partners that made this achievement possible, including the Biden Administration and the Healey-Driscoll Administration.”

Additionally, Avangrid says that 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 cut carbon emissions by over 1.6 million metric tons per year, the same as taking 325,000 cars off the road each year.

“This truly is a milestone for offshore wind and the entire renewable industry in North America. For the first time we have power flowing to the American consumers from a commercial-scale wind project, which marks the dawn of a new era for American renewables and the green transition,” said Tim Evans, Partner at CIP and Head of North America.

“By delivering first power, we have broken new ground and shown a viable path forward with power that is renewable, locally produced, and affordable. Much of the credit for this milestone must go to our local partners, labor leaders and the project’s skilled union workforce, and local communities from New Bedford to Barnstable.”

“I congratulate Vineyard Wind on this important, hard-won milestone, demonstrating yet again that offshore wind in America is real, and that the Port of New Bedford well-suited to support the industry,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “This is a great way to kick off 2024.”

   

Tagged categories: Carbon footprint; Energy efficiency; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Government; Government contracts; Green Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Offshore; Ongoing projects; President Biden; Program/Project Management; U.S. Department of Energy; Wind Farm; Wind Towers

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