FALMOUTH – Underground cables that will be part of a developing offshore wind farm could touch base somewhere in Falmouth.
Mayflower Wind, a joint venture project between Shell and EDP Renewables, presented plans to develop an 804-megawatt wind farm about 65 miles from shore on the Atlantic Coast Outer Continental Shelf to the Board of Selectmen Monday.
The energy generated from the wind turbines will travel through underground cables to an offshore substation and then to another substation onshore.
Christopher Hardy, external outreach manager for Mayflower Wind, said the onshore substation is set to be in Falmouth, based off the necessary path of the transmission route.
“There would be three cables making their way from the wind farm, 26 nautical miles off the coast of Nantucket,” Hardy said. “The cable route would go through Nantucket Sound all the way into Falmouth, making landfall onshore.”
From there, power will travel through overhead lines to an interconnection switching station and then to a transmission system in Bourne, where the energy will interconnect with the electric grid, Mayflower Wind President John Hartnett said.
The landing spot in Falmouth has not yet been identified. Hardy said the company is looking for different locations for the cable landing and the substation, but how much area is needed for it is not yet known.
Mayflower Wind’s project is one of two to be selected by the Commonwealth under a state procurement legislation. The first, Vineyard Wind, is currently working on the development of its own 84-turbine, 800-megawatt project, which has experienced several delays in the federal permitting process.
Selectmen Vice Chairman Doug Brown asked if Mayflower Wind is the only one looking to connect in Falmouth. Hartnett said he believed they were the only one, as Vineyard Wind is looking to connect in Barnstable.
In Dec. 2018, Mayflower Wind won the rights to develop a lease area that can support up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind. The power purchase agreement that Mayflower Wind signed with the electric distribution companies calls for the development of 804 megawatts.
There are 127,000 acres on the Atlantic Coast Outer Continental Shelf set aside for wind energy investments. Other companies also own leases in the area, including Vineyard Wind, Equinor Wind, Bay State Wind and Deepwater Wind.
Mayflower Wind does not know the exact number of wind turbines it will install because the manufacturing of turbines is changing, with newer ones generating a larger number of megawatts. The turbines will be installed just over a nautical mile apart in an east to west orientation, Hardy said. Diagonally, he said the turbines will be .7 nautical miles apart.
“The developers have been coordinating so that there is the consistent spacing of the turbines across the area so that marine users have greater clarity and safety in navigating their way through,” Hardy said. “More or less a straight line so that individuals traversing through the area don’t have to meander their way through.”
With Mayflower Wind’s development, the state is on its way to meeting the goal set by Gov. Charlie Baker’s Energy Diversity Act of 2016. The act requires that electric distribution companies purchase 1,600 megawatts of power from offshore renewables by 2027, along with 1,200 megawatts of clean power.
Mayflower projected its wind farm would create 10,000 jobs in the South Coast region and eliminate 1.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent of taking 350,000 vehicles off the road.
The project has a long way to go. When a location has been picked, Mayflower Wind will submit an interconnection request and conduct several engineering studies to identify spots where the transmission system has the strength and capability, Hartnett said. Mayflower will then pay the International Organization for Standardization to do a feasibility study and a detailed interconnection study.
If the permitting process goes smoothly, the wind farm will start generating energy by the end of 2025 or 2026, Hartnett told the Board of Selectmen.
“We’re very excited to be one of the offshore wind developers in Massachusetts and we’re very excited to have a project that we’re pushing forward,” Harnett said. “We look forward to being a partner with the town of Falmouth for the next 43 years.”
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