(RICHMOND, Va.) — Dominion Energy announced Wednesday it has reached a major milestone – the keel laying – in the construction of the first Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, currently being constructed by Keppel AmFELS at its Brownsville, Texas, shipyard. With several gigawatts of offshore wind capacity to be installed along the U.S. East Coast in the next decade, access to Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessels is of strategic importance to the U.S. offshore wind market.
The companies celebrated the event, when fabrications from the first steel, supplied domestically, were laid to form the first part of the keel.
This effort represents a significant step in developing a domestic manufacturing supply chain to support the multi-gigawatt opportunity for zero-carbon electricity generation in U.S. waters. Dominion Energy expects the vessel to be fully utilized in support of the installation of over 5 gigawatts of planned offshore wind generation off the East Coast of the U.S. through 2027 and beyond. The vessel is being built on the Gulf Coast and is expected to create nearly 700 direct construction jobs. Once complete, the vessel will be based out of Hampton Roads, Va., with a U.S. crew.
The vessel’s hull and infrastructure will utilize more than 14,000 tons of domestic steel, with nearly 10,000 tons sourced from Alabama and West Virginia suppliers. The vessel’s hull has a length of 472 feet, a width of 184 feet and a depth of 38 feet, making it one of the largest vessels of its kind in the world. It has accommodations for up to 119 people. The vessel is designed to handle current turbine technologies as well as next-generation turbine sizes of 12 megawatt or larger and will also be capable of the installation of foundations for turbines and other heavy lifts. Delivery is expected in 2023.
The overall project cost, inclusive of construction and commissioning and excluding financing costs, is estimated to be around $500 million. Financing for the vessel has been arranged through a lease financing agreement with leading global banks. Construction and financing costs will not impact Dominion Energy Virginia’s customers’ bills.
Once constructed, the vessel will be available for charter hire, including by Dominion Energy Virginia, subject to the approval of the Virginia State Corporation Commission, in connection with the installation of its Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project.
In August 2020, Dominion Energy announced the selection of the global firm Huisman to fabricate the crane to be used on the offshore wind turbine installation vessel. The main crane has a boom length of 426 feet and an expected lifting capacity of 2,200 tons.
Dominion Energy contracted with Keppel AmFELS, a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd., for the engineering, procurement and construction of the offshore wind turbine installation vessel. The vessel is designed by GustoMSC, a business unit within NOV.
Seajacks, a leader in the operation of self-propelled jack-up vessels that provide safe and efficient offshore wind turbine installations, will assist Dominion Energy with construction and operations oversight. Dominion Energy expects the vessel to operate continuously for several years through contracts with offshore wind projects in the U.S.
The two turbine, 12-megawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project, located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, is currently energized and operational while awaiting the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) final technical review. Ocean surveys and geotechnical work are also underway for the 2,640-megawatt full scale CVOW commercial project, which will be located in a lease area adjacent to the pilot project. These surveys will support the development of the project’s Construction and Operations Plan to be submitted to BOEM this month.
– Dominion Energy