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First U.S. Offshore Wind Farms Reach New Milestones

US offshore wind farm
Vineyard has completed commissioning its first five turbines and has 10 installed (Avangrid)

Published Feb 23, 2024 2:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The first two large offshore wind farms in the United States both reached new milestones this week as the industry is gaining momentum. Construction is well underway at both South Fork Wind and Vineyard Wind with both projects leading the industry as their host states, New York and Massachusetts, are both in the midst of their next round of project solicitations and other projects have received construction approval and will move forward in 2024.

Vineyard Wind cleared what Massachusetts termed the project’s first phase reporting that five of the planned 62 turbines have now been commissioned. The project which is being developed in a joint venture between Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners is now generating 68 MW of power, which they report is enough to power 30,000 homes. 

Currently, the project which is located 14 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, has installed nine turbines. The tenth turbine is in the process of installation with preparations underway to transport number 11 to the site. Strating for the components and onshore assembly is running through the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which Massachusetts calls the first port facility in the nation specifically designed for offshore wind.

“This marks a turning point in the clean energy transition. After many decades of advocacy, research, policymaking, and finally construction, America’s offshore wind industry has gone from a dream to reality,” said Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey. “Across Massachusetts, in 30,000 homes and businesses, when you turn on the light, you will now be using clean, affordable energy.”

Construction began in late 2022 and the offshore work started in June 2023. When the project is completed, it will generate 806 MW providing power for more than 400,000 homes and businesses.

Concurrently, South Fork Wind, which is located off the eastern tip of Long Island, reported at the beginning of the week its twelfth final wind turbine was being installed. The project highlighted on social media that the components had left the staging facility at the State Pier in New London, Connecticut last weekend and were being installed this week. South Fork achieved its first power in December 2023.

When it is completed, the project will provide 132 MW of electricity to the power grid on Long Island. They report it is equivalent to power for about 70,000 homes. On track to be the first commercial-scale project completed offshore in the United States, the project is being led by Ørsted in partnership with Eversource Energy. The New England power company, however, recently announced it has an agreement to sell its position to Global Infrastructure Partners, a private equity investor.

After a difficult few months in 2023, as the industry struggled with financial pressures and supply chain problems, offshore wind appears to be gaining fresh momentum. In addition to GIP’s planned acquisition of assets from Eversource, yesterday Dominion Energy reported it was receiving a strong investment from Stonepeak and Ørsted’s CEO Mads Nipper told Bloomberg in an interview despite the challenges the U.S. remains an attractive market.

New York recently closed bidding on its next round in the solicitation process and is expected to announce the winners in the coming weeks. Massachusetts issued its fourth and largest offshore wind solicitation to date in August of 2023, for up to 3,600 MW, which represents 25 percent of the state’s annual electricity demand. In October of 2023, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island announced the first-in-the-nation offshore wind multi-state coordination memorandum of understanding. Combined, the three states have the authority to solicit and procure up to 7,000 MW of offshore wind. Bids are due by March 27, 2024.