Wind farm blades turn for first time

Starting commissioning phase
Fri, 09/02/2016 - 9:45am

Almost two years after Deepwater Wind gained full permitting and approval for the Block Island Wind Farm, the project’s 241-foot long, 29-ton blades began to turn for the first time this week. It was just over a year ago that Deepwater Wind installed the first steel foundation in the water and now the turbine's rotors are slowly spinning as part of the wind turbine testing phase.

The 30-megawatt wind farm’s blades were witnessed turning incrementally, almost undetectably, from the island during the day on Monday, Aug. 29. Part of Deepwater Wind’s equipment testing process includes rotating the nacelles in different directions and turning the blades at a slow speed.

Deepwater Wind spokesperson Meaghan Wims told The Block Island Times on Wednesday, Aug. 31 that, “The commissioning of the wind farm is underway, with several weeks of tests ahead of us. Some of those tests will involve allowing the rotor to spin, which began this week. Our plan is for the wind farm to be commercially operational in early November.”

That information coincides with National Grid Media Relations Director David Graves informing The Times on Monday that the utility company intends for its substation to go live on Nov. 15, 2016. As a result, both National Grid and Deepwater Wind’s substations, located side-by-side on the property of the Block Island Power Company, are expected to receive the power generated by the wind farm around that timeframe.

A wind turbine produces power when the blades spin. When the blades spin, they turn a shaft inside the nacelle at the top of the tower where a generator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy and distributes it through a transformer, converting it for use at the local level.    

The blades, or rotor, must be facing into the wind, with the nacelle behind it, in order for the turbine to capture wind energy properly. The energy that the turbine produces is delivered through a submarine cable to a terrestrial (land-based) cable and then to a substation that delivers it to an electrical grid.  

Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm's five turbine towers are situated in 90-feet of water within a high wind zone three miles off the southeast coast of Block Island.