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US offshore wind on the move

Photo: Unsplash wind turbine on a blue sky
The US offshore wind landscape took a big step forward in early July when the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) granted an approval to developer Ørsted to begin construction on Ocean Wind 1.

This development, an offshore wind farm which could see as many as 98 turbines (GE Halide 12 mW)  putting out nearly 1.2 gW, is situated about 15 miles offshore Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is the third windfarm in the Atlantic that has been approved by the Democratic party Biden administration following on the heels of Vineyard Wind, a 62 turbine project  and the smaller 12 turbine South Fork Wind, both farther to the northeast,  in New England waters.

The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, a one-time Goldman Sachs banker, said that BOEM’s green-lighting “today represents a pivotal inflection point not just for Ørsted, but for New Jersey’s nation-leading offshore wind industry as a whole”. Following various approvals by the State of New Jersey, Murphy also signed legislation providing tax breaks at the state level for the developers, who still need to work through the arduous permitting process with local governmental authorities.

Ocean Wind 1’s progress has been contentious, with local Republicans, along with environmental groups with local concerns, and more recently, about the increased deaths of whales, fighting the project. The pace of litigation, flying in both directions, is accelerating. In the first week of July, Ørsted announced that it was going to be suing Cape May County (in Southern New Jersey) and the municipality of Ocean City, a popular beach resort; both were said to be slowing down the requisite landside approvals - for example, for cabling and electrical interfaces. Multiple local citizen groups are also involved, with one of them, “Save Long Beach Island” also suing BOEM over the lease approvals.

According to Ørsted, the timeframe from the Federal approval (BOEM) to actually turning the lights on is approximately two - three years; indeed, the first monopiles slated for the project have already been constructed, at a plant in Paulsboro, on the Delaware Bay side of New Jersey, at a facility championed by Governor Murphy.


The list of survey vessels in New Jersey waters, working Ocean Wind 1, but also other inchoate projects including Atlantic Shores from Shell/ EDF and New York Bight is extensive. Scans on showed Jones Act compliant vessels Go Adventurer, Go Discovery, and Go Seeker, ftom Guice Offshore; Regulus from Tidewater;  and Miss Emma McCall  from TDI Brooks working the region. Working for Fugro on Atlantic Shores, well known OSV owner Hornbeck’s HOS Browning has also been active.

While there are no specific deployment plans, Hornbeck has been in the news lately with an announcement that it would be converting its recently acquired 280 ft. OSVs, HOSSOVTM 300E- which was designed in collaboration with Vard, into an SOV that could double as a flotel. According to Hornbeck, the converted vessel “will have capacity to accommodate up to 90 or more persons in flotel or offshore wind service mode, with safe, stepless walk-to-work transfer capabilities in up to 2.5m sea states”.

The SOV will be equipped with an Uptime 30m motion-compensated offshore gangway, a 10-ton 3D-compensated crane, helideck, enclosed warehouse and stepless boat landing.  Its existing state-of-the-art diesel-electric powerplant will be enhanced by a 1,500 kW-hour battery hybrid power system” Eastern Shipbuilding, in the “Panhandle” of Florida, will be performing the conversion.