The long-debated question of how America’s first offshore wind farms will get built came closer to a resolution on Tuesday. In a statement, Ørsted announced that it will charter Dominion Energy’s wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) Charybdis, the first Jones Act vessel of its kind.
Charybdis, currently under construction at Keppel AmFELS in Brownsville, was ordered to fulfill Dominion’s needs for its own giant Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project (CVOW). Installing CVOW’s 188 giant turbines will keep Charybdis busy, but the project only started its Construction and Operations Plan (COP) federal permitting process in December and will not be built until 2026.
Charybdis will deliver much sooner, in late 2023, and the Ørsted-Eversource charter gives the $500 million mega-vessel its first job. Working out of New London, Connecticut, the WTIV will deploy for the construction of the future Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind projects. The charter will still allow the vessel to deploy to Virginia to work on CVOW in 2026 (subject to state regulatory approval).
Without Charybdis, Ørsted would have had to rely on a combination of foreign-flag WTIVs (which can lift and install components) and Jones Act feeder vessels (which can legally carry turbine parts between U.S. points). Charybdis – with a U.S.-built hull and U.S. merchant mariner crew – will be able to pick up her own turbine components at U.S. seaports, transport them to wind farm sites on the U.S. continental shelf and install them, without compliance assistance from a coastwise-capable feeder vessel.
“A Jones Act-qualified installation vessel is a game-changer for the development of the U.S. offshore wind industry,” said David Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of Ørsted Offshore North America. “This investment will enable us to unlock the economic benefits of offshore wind, not just for the Northeast, but for the Southern states as well. We’re proud to partner with Dominion Energy and Eversource on this historic milestone.”
The charter terms for the vessel were not disclosed.
Ørsted and Eversource have also committed about $100 million to a partnership with the State of Connecticut and Connecticut Port Authority to repurpose a disused port facility at New London’s State Pier. The work will create about 460 construction jobs, along with another 100 permanent positions.
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