First Vineyard Wind Turbine Heads Out To Sea

Jason Graziadei •

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A tugboat carrying Vineyard Wind's first assembled turbine squeezed through the New Bedford hurricane barrier opening in late 2023. Photo courtesy of Vineyard Wind

In a milestone for Vineyard Wind, the first assembled turbine components left the port of New Bedford on Wednesday, squeezing through the city's hurricane barrier behind a tugboat, and heading out to sea.

“While we’ve had many firsts, once this turbine is installed, it will stand as a proud symbol of America’s energy transition," Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Moeller said in a statement. “It may look easy, but the safe transportation of these components miles over the open water is no small feat.”

Vineyard Wind is on pace to become the country's first large-scale offshore wind farm. The project, which will include 62 turbines spaced one nautical mile apart, is slated for federal waters approximately 15 miles southwest of Nantucket.

Over the course of 2023, the company has been conducting geotechnical surveys and laying cable for the project, and recently completed a substation and installed some of the monopiles the turbins will be fixed to. The company, which is backed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and Avangrid Renewables, LLC, believes it will generate 800 megawatts of electricity annually and power over 400,000 homes.

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The turbine components left the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal with three vertically placed tower sections reaching more than 200 feet in height, three 321-foot-long blades, and a "nacelle pod" that houses the generating components. Foss Maritime, a US service contractor, will deliver loads weighing more than 1,700 tons each to the DEME Group’s Sea Installer vessel with 300-foot-deep legs to the area where the turbines will be installed, approximately 15 miles southwest of Nantucket.

When complete, the GE Haliade-X turbines that will be attached to the monopiles will reach 837 feet in the air, each nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower.

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62 of the 800-foot GE Haliade-X turbines will be installed to complete the Vineyard Wind offshore wind far. Graphic source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

In May, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the group Nantucket Residents Against Turbines (ACKRATS) claiming the project was approved by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other government agencies in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

ACKRATS' primary opposition to the project is its claim that the construction activity will negatively impact endangered right whales, which traverse the project's waters twice yearly in their annual migration to the Caribbean and back.

An ongoing whale mortality event involving North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales has prompted a backlash against President Joe Biden's administration's push for offshore wind energy, including the Vineyard Wind project.

While ACKRATS and other groups have questioned whether the initial survey work associated with the installation of offshore wind farms along the East Coast may be causing whale deaths - and even called on President Biden to launch an investigation - NOAA Fisheries has stated that “there are no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys for offshore wind development.”

Two years ago, the town of Nantucket negotiated to receive $16 million in restitution for the potential historical, cultural, and economic impacts of Vineyard Wind’s offshore wind farm through a so-called "Good Neighbor Agreement." Cultural Heritage Partners (CHP), the law firm hired by the town to negotiate on offshore wind projects, secured this remediation as part of a lengthy dialogue with Vineyard Wind.

The agreement, which was also signed by the Maria Mitchell Association and the Nantucket Preservation Trust, essentially binds the town and those organizations to support - and not criticize - the Vineyard Wind project.

Another look at the Vineyard Wind substation. Photo by Doug Lindley
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This map depicts the area where Vineyard Wind will be constructed and the undersea cable that will connect the turbines to the mainland.
The crane ship Orion, now installing the first Vineyard Wind monopile 14 miles off Nantucket. Photo courtesy of Vineyard Wind
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