First Monopile Installed at Dominion’s Virginia Offshore Wind Farm

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The first of the 176 monopile foundations for Dominion Energy’s 2.6-gigawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind has officially been installed. It is the start of offshore work for the massive project which so far is the largest undertaken in the United States.

Installation work for the foundations is underway using DEME Group’s heavy lift vessel Orion, which was previously used for the Vineyard Wind Farm off Massachusetts. Orion had just completed the installation of 29 monopiles at the Moray West wind farm in Scotland before arriving at the Port of Norfolk, Virginia around the beginning of the month. 

The massive vessel has a capacity of up to 30,000 tons with payload and is handling six of the Virginia monopile foundations at a time. The loadouts of the monopiles, which DEME reports each weigh about 1,500 tonnes, are taking place at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, where Dominion began staging the first foundations in October 2023.

“This is a monumental day for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind team, who have worked tirelessly to keep this project on budget and on schedule to provide our customers with reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy,” said Robert M. Blue, Dominion Energy’s chair, president and chief executive officer.

The installation work is happening approximately 29 miles off the Virginia Beach coast and will continue till November 1. Work will be paused till May 1, 2025, to protect the migrating, endangered North Atlantic right whale. 

DEME’s Orion is using its Vibro Hammer and Impact Hammer technology to pile drive the foundations. They are also employing the use of bubble curtains – perforated hoses that have air pumped through them – to create a wall of bubbles around the monopiles during installation to reduce soundwaves underwater.

At the same time, the second stage transition pieces have begun to arrive in Virginia. DEME reports it will begin installation of transition pieces later this year. The pieces will be transferred out to the site aboard Jones Act-compliant barges to meet the U.S. requirements and enforcement of the Jones Act on the offshore wind industry.

DEME reports working with consortium partner Prysmian they will also be working with both the export and inter-array cables. Other vessels will also join the project site for the installation of three offshore substations and scour protection

Dominion continues to emphasize that the project remains on budget and on schedule with construction expected to conclude in late 2026.

Later stages of the installation project will be conducted with Dominion’s newly built wind turbine installation vessel Charybdis, the first of her kind built in the U.S. and to be Jones Act compliant. The vessel was recently floated at the shipyard in Texas, and Dominion is denying reports in the Connecticut Examiner that the vessel is behind schedule. The newspaper reports that Ørsted which had hired Charybdis for installation work at its Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind projects has canceled the contract telling the Examiner it has found an alternate vessel.

Dominion told the paper this means that Charybdis will be available when they need it to progress work at the Coastal Virginia wind farm. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reports the vessel is expected to be delivered from the Seatrium AmFELS shipyard in Brownsville, Texas by early 2025.

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