B.I. Wind Farm construction completed

Construction activity to resume in the summer
Sun, 12/06/2015 - 6:00pm

Construction activity on the 30-megawatt Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm pilot project has ended for the season.

The final deck platform, the component that serves as the underpinning for the five wind turbines, was affixed on Saturday, Nov. 21, completing the current phase of installation on the project.

Deepwater Wind spokesperson Meaghan Wims told The Block Island Times that construction activity at the wind farm site would remain dormant until the summer. “The final deck was set on Nov. 21. Offshore work is complete for the season,” said Wims. “After setting the final deck, we continued with a variety of tasks to complete the installation and prepare the foundation for the winter.”

There have been no recent safety issues reported by the ABS Group, the independent Certified Verification Agent (CVA) that was approved by the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) during Deepwater Wind’s permitting process to monitor the project, since a report citing safety concerns associated with installations of the steel foundations was published by the group on Sept. 22.

“We’re pleased with the progress in the construction of the project and we’re now actively planning for next year’s installation season,” said Wims. In the spring, National Grid will begin installing the submarine cable, with turbine installation following in the late summer.

The wind turbine installation process that is set to begin late next summer will involve erecting the five 6-megawatt wind turbines at the offshore wind farm site. “The order of that work — all done offshore — is towers, then nacelle, then blades,” noted Wims.

In laymen’s terms, that means that the steel towers will first be set atop each of the five decks before the equipment for the blades are affixed at the peak of the wind turbine tower. The tower is the structure that the nacelle, which is a streamlined cover that houses the turbine’s generating components, will be affixed at the apex of the 270-foot tall section of the wind turbines.

The 240-foot long Alstom produced blades are attached to the nacelle via a shaft that’s connected to a gearbox. Inside the nacelle is the generator that is designed to convert the mechanical energy produced from the wind by the rotor into electricity. According to the American Wind Energy Association’s website, “because wind speed increases with height, taller towers allow wind turbines to capture more energy.” From the ocean floor, at a depth of approximately 90 feet, the Block Island Wind Farm wind turbines will stand 676 feet tall.

Prep work for the $107 million National Grid-owned and operated cable will begin this winter and installation will begin in the spring. The cable will run over 20-miles through state and federal waters from a substation in Wakefield to Scarborough Beach in Narragansett, and then to the Fred Benson Town Beach on Block Island.

The cable will come ashore a few hundred yards from the Beach Pavilion where it will be connected to the infrastructure network on Block Island and a newly built substation at the Block Island Power Company (BIPCo).

Wims said that there is “no change in our schedule — we remain on track to have the wind farm operational in the fourth quarter of 2016.”