Industries Energy/Green

Dominion will use research vessel to collect data on offshore wind

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Keep your eyes open for a 110-foot long lift vessel that will periodically be off the shore of Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach during July. The U.S.-flagged Inez Eymard will help Dominion Virginia Power obtain core samples so it can move ahead with a proposal to build wind turbines 27 miles off the coast.

The vessel will provide a stable platform for collecting samples.  As weather permits, Dominion said it will conduct borings off Camp Pendleton. The vessel’s location will range from 300 to 3,300 feet from the shoreline while collecting data for the design of the underground electric distribution line.

“This proposed project provides a very interesting opportunity to develop renewable offshore wind energy for Virginia,” Paul Ruppert, senior vice-president of Business Development and Generation Construction, said in a statement. “Both the demonstration project and the commercial venture tie into our strategy of promoting a diverse generating mix that includes nuclear, natural gas, coal, hydro, solar and sustainable wind … “


The Inez Eymard, which usually works in the Gulf of Mexico, has spent the past few days working at both Camp Pendleton and at the turbine site 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

Dominion has received two Department of Energy grants totaling $51 million for its wind turbine demonstration project.  If the project Is approved, the company plans to build two 6-megawatt turbines and test design features intended to lower the cost of construction, reduce maintenance and withstand hurricane-force winds.

Dominion also holds the lease on 112,800 acres of commercial wind area adjacent to the demonstration project. The company intends to use lessons learned from the demonstration turbines to guide the development of up to 2,000 megawatts of wind turbine energy.

To develop the demonstration project, Dominion is working with a team of national and international organizations recognized for their offshore expertise. The team includes: Alstom Power Inc., a wind turbine manufacturer and major supplier of equipment and services to the global power generation market; KBR, a global engineering, construction, and services firm with experience in offshore wind; and the state’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, which will hold the lease on the demonstration site.


The four borings at the turbine site will be collected about 330 feet below the ocean floor. The samples will be used to determine soil characteristics — such as composition and strength — to finalize the design of the wind turbine foundations.

Near shore, the vessel has finished two borings and has nine more to complete. The samples will be used to finalize the installation plan of the underground distribution line that will run from the turbines to Camp Pendleton, where they will be connected to Dominion’s electrical grid. Each of these borings will be obtained about 80 feet below the ocean floor.

Dominion still needs to obtain several regulatory approvals. Based on approval by mid-2016, major construction would occur in 2017 and the wind turbines would begin operating later that year.


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