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Rhode Island breaks ground on offshore wind port project

Rhode Island is racing to become a regional hub for the offshore wind industry in the Northeast.
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Rhode Island officials have broken ground on an offshore wind port project that will create a hub for the industry's growth in the Northeast.

The project at South Quay Marine Terminal will ultimately support an offshore wind turbine staging area. Funding provided for Phase 1 will be used to finish design activities and develop the waterfront portion of the terminal.

Phase 1 includes the following components:

  • A 525-foot berth, with a cofferdam bulkhead and concrete platform, is enough for a single large vessel to berth (such as an offshore wind installation vessel, which are typically less than 500 feet long), or two barges, which are the types of vessels projected to be used for early mover offshore wind projects. 
  • Fendering, bollards, and water service at the bulkhead to accommodate large vessels. 
  • Approximately 10 acres of laydown area in the uplands behind the bulkhead. This laydown area would be operationally functional to allow for storage of materials/components. 
  • Additional grading and land improvements throughout the site.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee directed $35 million from the state's American Rescue Plan funds to support the South Quay project.

“Rhode Island is a leader in offshore wind and this critical investment continues to ensure that our state remains at the center of this key industry,” said Governor Dan McKee.

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Rhode Island is racing to become a regional hub for the offshore wind industry in the Northeast.

With prime access to New England, Canada, and the U.S. Midwest markets, South Quay could help streamline the offshore wind supply chain in Rhode Island.

The site is located within 75 nautical miles to the Massachusetts and New York Wind Lease, areas which will rely on sites like the South Quay for manufacturing, storage and construction. The site is also adjacent to I-195 and I-95 which run through Rhode Island making the site accessible to large interstate and highway systems, decreasing time and cost for the transportation of goods. 

Governor Dan McKee joined the Quonset Development Corporation and state and local officials to cut the ribbon on the modernized Pier 2 at Quonset’s Port of Davisville. (Courtesy: Rhode Island Governor's Office)

In July, McKee announced that an $83 million expansion and modernization project at Quonset's Port of Davisville had been completed.

The project extended Pier 2 by 232 feet, created a third berthing space and dredged the port to accommodate larger ships— enhancements crucial for the buildout of wind projects off Rhode Island's coast.

The modernization effort, which was funded by Rhode Island voters, was completed $7 million under budget.

McKee, who in June set a target for the state to operate 100% with renewable energy by 2033, said the upgrades at Port of Davisville would position Rhode Island to "continue leading the nation in the race for offshore wind.”

Dominion Energy, Ørsted and Eversource Reach Deal on Contract to Charter Offshore Wind Turbine Installation Vessel (Courtesy: Dominion Energy)

Port infrastructure capable of supporting the budding U.S. offshore wind industry could be one of the biggest hindrances to its growth.

A study released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in March found that few ports were currently capable of fully supporting offshore wind energy activities, investments are underway at several ports along the Eastern Seaboard.

Out of the 22 East Coast ports analyzed by NREL for their ability to support fixed-bottom offshore wind activities, only the Portsmouth Marine Terminal in Virginia had existing capabilities to support the loadout of wind turbine installation vessels.

The Portsmouth Marine Terminal will support Dominion Energy's 2.6 GW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. Dominion will use 72 acres at the port for staging and pre-assembly of foundations and turbines. Siemens Gamesa is building a blade finishing facility. Ørsted will also have a presence at the port.

Equinor and bp, meanwhile, plan to invest up to $250 million to build an offshore wind staging and assembly hub at the Sustainable South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York. Foss Maritime is redeveloping 30 acres at the Port of New Bedford in Massachusetts to support the Vineyard Wind 1 and Mayflower Wind projects.

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