GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc. has begun a multimillion-dollar offshore geotechnical engineering program for Deepwater Wind in Rhode Island Sound.
Working from a 200-foot lift boat mobilized earlier this month from Quonset Point, R.I., a 28-person GZA-led crew is now taking and evaluating soil samples from the sea floor in 100-120 feet of water about 15 miles southeast of Block Island. GZA will analyze the composition of the sand, gravel, silt and clay extracted by the drilling operation to advise Deepwater Wind on how various wind turbine foundation options will perform.
The soil samples will come from multiple locations in the offshore wind energy site Deepwater Wind has leased from the federal government to develop its South Fork Wind and Revolution Wind projects.
“What Deepwater Wind has launched off the coast of New England is a revolutionary new industry that will bring clean, renewable energy to thousands of homes and businesses throughout our region,” says Bill Hadge, CEO of GZA. “GZA is honored and excited to take on the challenge of providing the rigorous geotechnical analysis that will help Deepwater Wind site and install their turbines with the most appropriate foundations.”
“We’re embarking on this major scientific endeavor so we can better understand the seafloor where we’ll build these next wind farms,” adds Deepwater Wind’s CEO, Jeffrey Grybowski. “When we’re done, we’ll know more about this part of the ocean than ever before. Local laborers, mariners and scientists will help us get the job done.”
Diane Y. Baxter, GZA associate principal at the firm’s Providence, R.I., office, is overseeing a two-shift, 24-hour-a-day geotechnical drilling and analysis effort that involves taking 3-inch-diameter cores of soils extending as far as 200 feet below the sea floor.
“The geology of this part of the sea floor is proving to be highly complex and variable, which is something we saw when we worked on the Block Island Wind Farm,” Baxter says.
The offshore sampling is one of the early phases of what will be a five-month-long review by Deepwater Wind of its offshore leased property. Once permits are in hand, local construction work on the 90 MW South Fork Wind Farm (serving Long Island, N.Y.) is expected to begin in 2021, with the wind farm in operation in 2022. Construction on the 400 MW of power from Revolution Wind would start as early as 2020 to serve Rhode Island and in 2021 on the 200 MW of power from Revolution Wind to serve Connecticut. Revolution Wind is planned to begin operations in 2023.