The public got a glimpse on June 13 at a planned 704-megawatt offshore wind development slated for just off the Rhode Island coast.
Orsted North America, the subsidiary of the Dutch energy giant developing the Revolution Wind project in partnership with Eversource, hosted an Open House at the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Institute in Narragansett. Experts presented details about the plan to construct 100 turbines in federal waters 15 miles south of the Rhode Island coast.
According to Orsted, which owns and oversaw the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm in 2016, the country’s first offshore wind operation, the turbines for Revolution Wind will generate clean, renewable energy to Rhode Island and Connecticut. They will also be visible from notable coastal locations around Newport and Middletown, including Easton’s Beach, Second Beach, Cliff Walk, the Pell Bridge, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge and the Norman Bird Sanctuary.
“Depending on weather conditions and other factors, people will be able to see them, especially on clear days,” said an Orsted spokesperson.
“We used a lot of technology, including light references, photo editing software and corresponding camera equipment, to try to simulate what that visibility will look like from those locations in Newport and Middletown.”
The public also got to hear Orsted’s synopsis for Revolution Wind in a 15-minute presentation that detailed the scope of work, permitting process and estimated construction time of the project.
“This is all stuff I’m really proud to help bring to Rhode Island and Connecticut,” said Kellen Ingalls, development director for the Revolution Wind project. “We’re bringing real investment here. That includes a significant number of jobs, especially during construction and operations. We’re investing $40 million into Rhode Island’s ports, and we’ve committed $4.5 million to funding and supporting education and research to bring up the next generation of workforce development for offshore wind here in the state.”
The Block Island Wind Farm was a 30-megawatt, five-turbine development.
Revolution Wind will be located 12 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard and be adjacent to Or- sted and Eversource’s South Fork Wind development, a 132-megawatt venture located 35 miles east of Montauk Point that will power about 70,000 homes on Long Island, New York.
The undersea cables needed for the project are proposed to make landfall from the west passage of Narragansett Bay to Quonset Business Park, where power generated from the turbines will again travel in underground cables along existing routes to the Davisville substation for distribution to the larger grid.
“That’s a fairly industrial and commercial location that we think fits the project really well,” said Ingalls on the cable coming ashore in Quonset.
Orsted North America is currently going through a permitting process with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and other federal agencies. The company is also applying for permits at the state level through the Coastal Resource Management Council, the Department of Environmental Management and the Energy Facility Sitings Board.
“The one that will take the longest is most likely BOEM,” Ingalls said. “Construction is expected to start in 2023 upon completion of that permit process.”
Orsted North America has also conducted research in relation to the project, including Revolution Wind’s projected noise and impact on marine and other wildlife, the commercial fishing industry and the visibility of the turbines from shores across the Ocean State. A Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management survey to determine if the turbines will have an effect on the “abundancy and distribution” of lobsters, crabs and other fish species is being funded by Orsted.
“We also conduct extensive, multi-year monitoring to evaluate impacts of project development,” said Ingalls. “As a result, we have a really robust understanding of what’s going on and what will be going on in the area where we will be constructing this project.”
Orsted also found a local partner in the U.S. Maritime Resource Center, located in Middletown, to develop a virtual offshore wind farm navigation simulator for mariners. The goal of the software is to allow the public to experience what it will be like to navigate through Revolution Wind Farm by boat once the project is completed.
“It’s like an adult video game; it’s very cool,” Ingalls said.
The recent Open House was the company’s first time offering an inperson exhibition of the offshore wind project, as the pandemic forced Orsted to engage stakeholders digitally for the past two years, said Ingalls. More information about Revolution Wind can be found at the company’s website, including a virtual presentation that duplicates the materials on display in Narragansett.
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