Photos: Turbines for First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm
Preparations for the groundbreaking Block Island Wind Farm – America's first – are well under way, with the regulatory permits obtained, the funding procured and the jacket installation complete. Now the actual equipment for the farm, towers, blades and five massive turbines have been shipped, ready for assembly.
The blades arrrived in Providence, RI from Denmark on the general cargo ship Suomigracht late last month, and the turbines are on board the Fred Olsen jackup construction vessel Brave Tern, currently under way across the North Atlantic. When the Tern arrives, it will begin the process of installing the towers; that work is expected to begin in August.
The 20-mile cable connecting Block Island with the mainland was completed on June 28 – providing the island with its first electrical and fiber optic connection ever. Deepwater Wind, the developer and operator of the farm, has completed a separate cable linking the facility with Block Island, and expects to finish cable linkages between the five wind towers this month.
There is a chance that Block Island Wind may not remain the only offshore wind project in the U.S. for long: Deepwater Wind has proposed a 90 MW follow-on project for the Long Island Power Authority. The authority had planned to vote on the project on Wednesday, but in a surprise announcement, it said that it had delayed the decision on a request from state authorities. It was widely expected to approve the proposal, which had public support from the state.
“There are no time sensitive matters on LIPA’s Board agenda, and the Authority expects to reschedule the meeting after the release of the [state] off-shore wind blueprint . . . LIPA remains committed to its renewable energy goals and meeting the energy needs of the South Fork," said the authority's board in a statement.
Local opposition on aesthetic grounds has held up other East Coast offshore wind plans, notably Cape Wind off of Massachusetts.
Turbine loadout on the Brave Tern (courtesy Andre Bocquel)
Heliade turbines off Belgium