US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo have announced approval of the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project, the first large-scale offshore wind project in the US
The 800-MW Vineyard Wind energy project will contribute to the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of generating 30 GW of energy from offshore wind by 2030.
The project will be located approximately 12 nautical miles offshore Martha’s Vineyard and 12 nautical miles offshore Nantucket in the northern portion of Vineyard Wind’s lease area. It will create 3,600 jobs and provide enough power for 400,000 homes and businesses.
Secretary Haaland said, “A clean energy future is within our grasp in the US. Approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation. Today is one of many actions we are determined to take to open the doors of economic opportunity to more Americans.”
Secretary Raimondo said, “Today’s offshore wind project announcement demonstrates that we can fight the climate crisis, while creating high-paying jobs and strengthening our competitiveness at home and abroad.
“This project is an example of the investments we need to achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious climate goals. I’m proud to be part of the team leading the charge on offshore wind.”
Vineyard Wind chief executive Lars Pedersen said, “Today’s Record of Decision (ROD) is not about the start of a single project, but the launch of a new industry.
“Receiving this final major federal approval means the jobs, economic benefits and clean energy revolution associated with the Vineyard Wind 1 project can finally come to fruition. It has been a long road to get to this point, but ultimately, we are reaching the end of this process with the strongest possible project. I want to thank the Biden administration, Secretaries Haaland and Raimondo and BOEM for their efforts in finalising the review of this project. I also want to thank Governor Baker, the Massachusetts federal delegation and state legislature for their steadfast commitment to seeing this endeavour through.”
The project will use GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X turbine, which has a capacity of 13 MW. Using a larger turbine than originally planned has allowed the project to reduce the number of turbines from 108 to 62 while still delivering a total capacity of 800 MW.
The ROD for the project grants Vineyard Wind final federal approval to install 84 or fewer turbines off Massachusetts. The turbines will be installed in an east-west orientation, and all the turbines will have a minimum spacing of one nautical mile between them in the north-south and east-west directions, consistent with the US Coast Guard recommendations in the Final Massachusetts and Rhode Island Port Access Route Study.
The ROD adopts mitigation measures to help avoid, minimise, reduce, or eliminate adverse environmental effects that could result from the construction and operation of the proposed project. These mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements were developed through input, consultation, and co-ordination with stakeholders, Tribes, and federal and state agencies.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) director Amanda Lefton said, “This project represents the power of a government-wide approach to offshore wind permitting, taking stakeholder ideas and concerns into consideration every step of the way.
“We will continue to advance new projects that will incorporate lessons learned from analysing this project to ensure an efficient and predictable process for industry and stakeholders.”
The ROD is jointly signed by and addresses permitting decisions by BOEM, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Prior to construction, Vineyard Wind must submit a facility design report and a fabrication and installation report. These engineering and technical reports provide specific details for how the facility will be fabricated and installed in accordance with the approved construction and operations plan.
In addition to the Vineyard Wind announcement, since 20 January 2021, the Department of Interior has initiated the environmental review of two other offshore wind projects and pursued additional leasing opportunities in the New York Bight.
The Business Network for Offshore Wind, which has long worked towards the development of an offshore wind industry in US waters, described the Vineyard Wind decision as “ a greenlight to the offshore wind industry in the US.”
The Network said the ROD “reflects federal support to jumpstart the US offshore wind industry” and “demonstrates the Biden administration’s commitment to deploying 30 GW by 2030, which is expected to bring in new investors who will support the build-out of a local US supply chain.
“The Vineyard Wind project is a microcosm of the potential economic boom that offshore wind offers the US,” it said. “Full construction and operations are projected to create 3,600 Massachusetts jobs and spur over $200M in economic activity.”
In its 2021 Market Report, the network identified 418 contracts nationwide, including 51 involving the Vineyard Wind project, and US$3.6Bn in public and private investments even before a US commercial-size project had begun construction. In just a few months, the number of contracts has swelled to more than 500, it noted.
Business Network for Offshore Wind president and chief executive Liz Burdock said, “This approval should signal ‘go’ to all the supply chain companies that were waiting to see if the industry would move to commercial scale construction.
“Now is the time to get involved in this next great American industry and become part of the most exciting energy sector this country has seen in 50 years.
“All indicators point to the federal government continuing to move other projects forward through the permitting process, taking into account the unique characteristics of each wind energy area.
“Consistent approval of these pending offshore wind projects will help catapult the US as a leader in the offshore wind market and create thousands of well-paying jobs.”