Deepwater commits to making foundations in Massachusetts

US offshore developer is eyeing three sites along the Massachusetts coast as possible locations for foundation fabrication

Developer Deepwater Wind has committed to assembling turbine foundations in Massachusetts should its Revolution project emerge victorious in the state’s current request for proposal, one of the most significant supply chain commitments made to date in the burgeoning US offshore wind sector.

Deepwater, whose 30MW Block Island is the only existing US offshore wind farm, says it is looking at the cities of New Bedford, Fall River and Somerset as possible locations for the foundation assembly. The work involves welding, assembly, painting and other jobs related to the 1,500-tonne subsea steel foundations that will support the turbines.

Deepwater – along with rival developers Vineyard Wind and Orsted-backed Bay State Wind – had already committed to using New Bedford in some capacity. New Bedford, along Massachusetts’ south coast, is home to the state-owned Marine Commerce Terminal, which was built specifically for offshore wind work using more than $100m of public funds.

Fall River and Somerset are across from each other on the Taunton River, which feeds into Narragansett Bay, New England’s largest estuary. Both cities are less than 20 miles (32km) around the Narragansett Bay from the Port of Providence, in the neighbouring state of Rhode Island, which handled much of the onshore work done for the Block Island project.

New Bedford: the new home of US offshore wind power?

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The US offshore sector is walking a tightrope as it attempts to keep its costs down by tapping into Europe’s well-developed supply chain while simultaneously delivering enough jobs and local supply-chain investment to states like Massachusetts and New York that have backed the industry by establishing aggressive offshore wind targets.

Subsea foundations have been seen as one of the likeliest components for which to localise manufacturing in the northeastern US, with other components – like nacelles and blades – to come later if the market scales up.

Gulf Island Fabrications, primarily an oil and gas fabricator, made the steel jackets for the Block Island project out of its facility in Louisiana, along the Gulf Coast.

While the three developers vying for an off-take deal in Massachusetts’ 83C tender are competing to a large extent on price, other factors, including local jobs, will also play a role in determining the outcome – leading all of the development groups to make bold claims about the jobs their projects will deliver to the state.

Deepwater says the foundation-related work alone for its Revolution project will create 300 direct jobs during peak construction, and twice as many indirect jobs.

“No company is more committed to building a local offshore wind workforce than us,” says Deepwater chief executive Jeffrey Grybowski. “This is about building a real industry that lasts.”

Massachusetts is set to announce its first offshore wind winners in April, with at least 400MW and as much as 800MW of capacity to be awarded. Two of the developers – Deepwater and Orsted – have revealed plans to integrated large-scale storage with their projects to better serve the New England grid.

Separately, Deepwater announced that will in the coming weeks issue a Request for Information to Massachusetts boat builders as it begins looking for purpose-built crew vessels for its Revolution project.

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