Offshore Wind

Dutch Group Expands Support of U.S. Offshore Wind

A European company considered a leader in the offshore wind sector has signed on to help develop a major project off the Massachusetts coast. Ventolines, a Dutch company that worked on the first commercial U.S. offshore wind project, on Dec. 16 announced it has opened a U.S. office and will support construction of the Mayflower Wind installation.

Mayflower Wind is a planned 804-MW offshore wind project about 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, and 23 miles south of Nantucket. The project, expected to come online in 2025, already has power purchase agreements with Massachusetts utilities. The installation is a joint venture of Shell New Energies and Ocean Winds, which is the global offshore wind collaboration between ENGIE and EDP Renewables.

“We are proud to be part of the team bringing more wind farms and sustainable energy to the U.S.,” said Thibaut de Groen, Ventolines’ Director of Contracting and Construction, on Wednesday. Ventolines supervised the installation of wind turbines and advised on asset management for the 30-MW Block Island wind farm (Figure 1) off the Rhode Island coast, which came online in 2017 and was the first U.S. offshore wind project.

1. Ventolines used a jack-up rig owned by Fred Olsen Windcarrier, on that company’s Brave Tern jack-up installation vessel from Europe, to install the turbines at the 30-MW Block Island offshore wind project, as shown here. Block Island, off the Rhode Island coast, was the first U.S. offshore wind project to enter commercial operation. Deepwater Wind, a Ventolines client at the time, built Block Island; Deepwater Wind was sold to Ørsted in October 2018. Courtesy: Ørsted

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) to date has awarded 16 leases for offshore wind farms along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to New Jersey, and south to North Carolina. States along the East Coast have committed to developing as much as 29 GW of offshore wind generating capacity.

Avangrid Renewables on Dec. 11 submitted a plan to BOEM for the first 800-MW phase of its Kitty Hawk offshore wind project off North Carolina. The company said it plans to build 2.5 GW of wind power generation capacity off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts in the next decade.

“We’re proud to be the first to submit a federal permit for a commercial scale offshore wind project in Virginia and the Carolinas,” said Bill White, Avangrid Renewables’ head of U.S. offshore wind, in a news release. “Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind will deliver clean energy to customers in the region and significant economic benefits and quality jobs for decades to come.”

The first phase of the Kitty Hawk project is expected to start construction by 2024. Subsequent phases could bring the project’s total generation capacity to 2.5 GW by 2030. Avangrid Renewables, part of U.S. utility Avangrid, which is a subsidiary of Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, on Friday cited an environmental impact statement that indicated the project will drive about $2 billion in economic activity and create about 800 jobs in Virginia and North Carolina. 

Avangrid Renewables also is seeking BOEM approval for the first 800-MW phase of the Vineyard Wind project off the Massachusetts coast, along with the 804-MW Park City project off the coast of Connecticut.

There have been discussions about developing offshore wind projects along the U.S. West Coast. Those designs have looked at the possibility of mooring turbines onto floating platforms in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.

European Expertise

Companies developing offshore wind projects have looked to Europe for examples of how to grow the industry off the U.S. coast. Ventolines, headquartered in Almere, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands, will provide transport and installation expertise for several areas of the Mayflower Wind project, including the substation, foundations, array cables, and wind turbines.

“This project signals the advent of large-scale offshore wind energy in America, and we are pleased to be able to add our expertise on projects of this scale,” said Lorry Wagner, who is representing Ventolines in the U.S. as the company opens its new office in Boston. The company supplied technical due diligence during turbine selection, and technical support for negotiating the turbine supply contract, for two other U.S. projects planned off the coasts of Maryland New York.

“Our formal entry into the U.S. market is the next logical step in our company’s evolution,” said de Groen.

Want to learn more? Read The POWER Interview with Ventolines’ executives Lorry Wagner and Thibaut de Groen.

Ventolines is recognized as a leader in renewable energy development in Europe. The company, founded in 2007 by siblings Anne and Jelma de Groot, who had experience in the wind power sector, has been providing services to companies involved with wind, solar, and energy storage projects.

“We have a skilled team with the knowledge and experience to guarantee a reliable, high-quality result,” de Groen said. “And we’re inventive. We always come up with a suitable solution that works for everyone to successfully complete projects. We are persistent and never give up. And we aim to be the best.”

Ventolines has more than 1.5 GW of installed wind power capacity in the Netherlands, including the 500-MW Windplan Groen, the country’s largest wind farm. The company also has helped develop what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm built on a lake, the 383-MW Windpark Fryslân, which will feature 89 Siemens Gamesa turbines and is expected to come online in summer 2021. The company also is involved in the development of more than 350 MW of solar power generation capacity, along with several energy storage projects.

West Coast Efforts

Officials with the U.S. Dept. of the Interior during the Obama administration responded to unsolicited proposals for West Coast offshore wind projects, and mapped three areas that could be used for such projects. In the past year, officials with the U.S. Dept. of Defense (DOD) have been part of a working group with state agencies in California to look at the viability of offshore wind in the area. However, military officials during the Trump administration have continued to oppose development in at least two of the mapped areas, off the state’s southern and central coastline.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory earlier this year prepared a report for the BOEM that looked at the potential for offshore wind off the Oregon coast.

California Democratic state representative Salud Carbajal created the Offshore Wind Working Group in August 2019. The group includes representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, BOEM, DOD, the Navy, and the California Energy Commission. Carbajal said recently he thinks the administration of President-elect Joe Biden could be more supportive of renewable energy and of offshore wind along the California coast.

Carbajal received a letter this past summer from Navy Secretary Kenneth J. Braithwaite that reads, in part, “After our discussions, I have a better appreciation for the energy challenges that lie ahead for the state of California, and your efforts to achieve sustainable energy solutions and a desire to produce three gigawatts of energy from offshore wind. I look forward to working with you to identify a solution and offering support where we can to help resolve this to all parties’ satisfaction.”

Said Carbajal after receiving Braithwaite’s letter: “The Navy has indicated their commitment to work with us to identify a region that meets our energy needs while balancing the readiness needs of the military … I’m excited to continue our efforts to bring offshore wind energy and jobs to the Central Coast. Let’s get to work.”

Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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