While it only has two 6 MW turbines, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project will lay the foundation for the largest offshore windfarm in North America
US utility Dominion Energy completed installation of the two-turbine, 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project 43 km off Virginia Beach in June. CVOW is the first offshore windfarm to be approved by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and installed in federal waters, and the second built in the US. Block Island Windfarm in Rhode Island, with 30 MW of capacity, was the first offshore windfarm in the US.
“Construction of these two turbines is a major milestone not only for offshore wind in Virginia but also for offshore wind in the US,” said Dominion Energy chairman, president and chief executive Thomas Farrell II. “Clean energy jobs have the potential to serve as a catalyst to re-ignite the economy following the impacts of the pandemic and continue driving down carbon emissions,” added Mr Farrell.
“Clean energy jobs have the potential to serve as a catalyst to re-ignite the economy following the impacts of the pandemic”
What is significant about CVOW is that Dominion Energy will apply the valuable permitting, design, installation and operations experience from the pilot project to its proposed US$8Bn, 2.6 GW commercial project. That project, which is the largest announced offshore wind project in North America, is on track to commence construction in 2024. On completion, it will provide enough renewable electricity to power up to 650,000 homes. Development will be in three phases, each of which will involve the installation of about 70 turbines with a capacity of 880 MW. Dominion Energy could double the capacity of the windfarm to 5.2 GW by 2035.
CVOW’s turbines will now undergo acceptance testing before being energised and producing enough clean, renewable energy, at peak output, to power 3,000 Virginia homes.
Governor Ralph Northam said: “This project propels Virginia to national leadership in America’s transition to clean energy.”
Added Governor Northam: “It is also shaping a new industry that will bring thousands of new clean energy jobs to Virginia. By working together, Virginia is shaping an investment that is good for workers, good for business, and good for the American economy.”
Offshore wind is a key part of Dominion Energy’s comprehensive clean energy strategy to meet standards outlined in the Virginia Clean Economy Act and to achieve the company’s net zero CO2 and methane emissions commitment by 2050.
Ørsted, the largest offshore wind developer in the world, is serving as the offshore engineering, procurement and construction lead for the project. Ørsted hopes to create an offshore wind hub at the Port of Virginia for offshore windfarm development on the US east coast. It signed a lease with the port for 1.7 acres at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal through 2026, with options to expand to an additional 40 acres. The deal between Ørsted and the port could be worth nearly US$13M in lease payments and site upgrades, including US$20M for cranes and improvements to a section of the terminal’s berth to ensure heavy load capacity. Those investments would prepare the site for activities such as pre-assembly, staging, and loading of wind turbines for other Ørsted projects.
European contractor installs turbines
For the CVOW project, Ørsted Wind Power North America selected Belgian offshore marine contractor Jan De Nul Group to install the turbines.
Jan De Nul Group’s workscope covered the transport and installation of both offshore foundations and wind turbines, and the procurement and installation of the scour protection. Each foundation is composed of a monopile and transition piece.
“This project propels Virginia to national leadership in America’s transition to clean energy”
Jan De Nul manager offshore renewables Peter De Pooter, said: “This project is of great importance for Jan De Nul Group as it has given us the opportunity to work with local, state and federal government agencies in the US and allowed us to familiarise ourselves with the construction of US offshore windfarms.”
Jan De Nul’s offshore jack-up installation vessel Vole au vent delivered the installation works and was assisted by the multipurpose vessel Adhémar de Saint Venant to perform the scour protection works.
The pilot project was first announced three years ago and received Virginia State Corporation Commission approval in November 2018. Onshore construction of the electrical interconnection facilities and the half-mile conduit which holds the final stretch of cable connecting the turbines 43 km off the coast to a company substation near Camp Pendleton commenced mid-2019 and was completed earlier this year.
Survey and geotechnical work continue on the company’s 2.6-GW full-scale wind development. These surveys will support the development of the project’s construction and operations plan, to be submitted to BOEM later this year.
Dominion Energy named Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy its preferred wind turbine supplier for the project earlier this year. The turbine OEM will supply its new SG 14-222 DD turbine for the project.
Rhode Island operator signs CTV contract
Maintenance of CVOW’s two 6 MW turbines will be supported by a crew transfer vessel (CTV) under construction at Blount Boats in Warren, Rhode Island. The CTV is being built for Atlantic Wind Transfers, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, which secured a long-term contract from Dominion Energy.
The contract is another feather in the cap of Charlie Donadio’s Atlantic Wind Transfers, which operates Atlantic Pioneer, the first and currently only operating CTV in the US. Atlantic Pioneer supports the operations and maintenance of the five GE 6 MW turbines at the Block Island Windfarm, transporting GE technicians/cargo along with Ørsted personnel performing maintenance year-round.
Commenting on Atlantic Wind Transfers new CTV, Mr Donadio, the company’s founder and chief executive, said: “This next-generation Jones Act-compliant CTV design will set the bar to the highest standards, meeting all US Coast Guard regulations and certifications to operate up to 150 miles offshore. It’s exciting to be involved and working on the first two offshore windfarms in the US.”
Much like Atlantic Pioneer, the new CTV is being built by Blount Boats, based on a design from UK naval architectural firm Chartwell Marine. The newbuild is a specialised model of the Chartwell 24, modified to comply with US regulations and operational conditions in the Atlantic Ocean. In particular, the CTV will be compliant with legislation protecting the migration route of the Right Whale off the northeastern seaboard, with a specially adapted 65 ft (19.8 m) hull.
The CTV’s catamaran hull configuration minimises ‘wet deck slamming’, has a large, step-free foredeck and excellent transit performance.
Atlantic Wind Transfers plans to build a third CTV with Blount Boats.