The typical offshore wind turbine generator (WTG) currently being installed worldwide produces 6 to 8 megawatts of electrical power and stands more than 100 meters above the ocean surface. The next generation turbines will produce 12 megawatts or more. In the summer of 2016 five of these turbines were installed in the coastal waters of Rhode Island. They are representative of the latest in a constantly evolving series of WTGs. As manufacturers continue to develop more powerful turbines, larger and larger specialized vessels will be needed to lift the components at assembly sites offshore. The process these vessels use to build America’s offshore windfarms will need to be different from the approach normally used at sites outside the U.S. This is due in part to regulatory restrictions imposed by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is more commonly known as the Jones Act. As it pertains to offshore windfarm construction, the Jones Act prohibits foreign-flagged vessels, (vessels built outside the United States) from moving cargo between two U.S. ports. Under the law, an offshore windfarm within territorial waters is considered a U.S. port. Therefore, employing a foreign built windfarm construction vessel to transport components from a nearby port to the construction site, as it typically does, violates the Jones Act. Although the Jones Act might appear to be a deterrent to the development of offshore wind in the U.S., it is not. The developers of the Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) used a combination of U.S. and foreign-flagged vessels to construct BIWF, while remaining in compliance with the law. This paper reviews the approach used at Block Island and discusses how it can be applied to future projects. An analysis of alternatives for various vessel fleet combinations that can be used for this purpose is provided. The analysis is based on results produced by a throughput and scheduling model developed by the authors. The model leverages the experience gained during the construction of BIWF, and was validated with data collected during the project. The alternatives include scenarios utilizing existing vessels modified for windfarm construction service, foreign-flagged windfarm construction vessels, and new vessels specifically built for the U.S. market. The paper concludes with a review of the relative efficiencies of various fleet configurations while undertaking the construction of a notional windfarm located off the East Coast of the U.S.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.