April Infrastructure: Mayflower Wind

At the Infrastructure Committee’s April meeting, Mayflower Wind community liaison officers Kelsey Perry and Dugan Becker reported on the offshore wind project slated for Falmouth.  Mayflower Wind is a wind energy developer with an offshore wind farm lease area 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 20 miles south of Nantucket. It is a fifty-fifty joint venture with Shell, which has a new goal of becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, and Ocean Winds, a joint venture between EDP Renewables and ENGIE renewable energy companies.

According to Becker and Perry, offshore wind energy potential is anticipated to be four times greater than total current generating capacity from all sources. Moreover, robust offshore wind resources are readily available, serving our heavily populated coastal regions. Massachusetts is especially well positioned to take advantage of consistently strong wind speeds.

While Mayflower Wind’s parent companies do look into projects including solar and onshore wind, Mayflower Wind is an offshore wind developer. The company was created to complete the two offshore projects which will be brought to shore in Somerset and Falmouth. Their presentation to the Infrastructure Committee focused primarily on the Falmouth project.

The lease area is 127,000 acres with capacity for 149 turbines, although there will likely be fewer installed in order to allow for offshore substation platforms. These turbines have the potential for generating up to 2400MW—enough energy to power 1 million homes. Mayflower Wind has not yet selected a specific turbine for the project, but they are expected to be very large. At a maximum, the height above mean low water level is approximately 1,000 feet – roughly the height of the Eiffel Tower. The site layout was planned in conjunction with U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime users.

Electricity generated by these turbines will travel by buried inter-array cables to an offshore substation platform. These platforms aggregate energy, ramping up voltage for transmission to shore. Electricity is then transmitted by buried high voltage cables to an onshore substation and passed to overhead interconnection cables managed by Eversource.

Underwater high voltage alternative current cables will be buried three to thirteen feet deep, running about 50 miles through half state, half federal waters and installed in a 3,200 foot wide corridor. Horizontal directional drilling will be used at landfall to avoid impacts to the environment, including eelgrass beds.

Offshore vessels and equipment that will be used in the installation are a jack-up vessel, jetting ROV, and hybrid electric crew transfer vessel. The crew vessel will be the first of its kind, designed and built by Gladding-Hearn ship builders in Somerset.

Evaluated onshore components include interconnection options, landfall and substation locations, and both offshore and onshore cable route options. In evaluating these possibilities Mayflower wind has studied the physical environment, fauna and flora and area socioeconomics including impacts on fishing, marine transportation, aviation, and the supply chain, as well as noise and traffic impact studies.

Organizations Mayflower Wind has worked with on environmental impact include Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative, 350 Cape Cod, Falmouth Climate Action Network. Their permitting team also works with Massachusetts wildlife organizations and commercial fisheries for guidance. They reported that the final proposal mitigates impacts to the greatest extent possible.

In 2021 the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management initiated environmental and technical reviews required for permitting. These reviews are expected to take up to two years to complete. Mayflower Wind has also submitted their Falmouth petition to the Energy Facility Siting Board and will schedule a public hearing in the next few months. They hope to start construction by 2025.

These awards come with economic development requirements, with opportunities that include investment in ports, infrastructure, and workforce. Mayflower Wind anticipates creating 360 permanent, long term jobs and is committed to hiring locally. Local contractors can submit information on the Mayflower Wind website.

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