Dominion Energy 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 AmFEL, a global marine shipbuilding firm, at its Brownsville, Texas, shipyard.
With several GW of offshore wind capacity to be installed along the 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.
“This is a monumental step for the offshore wind industry in the U.S.,” says Robert M. Blue, president and CEO of Dominion Energy. “Dominion Energy is proud to be leading a consortium of respected industry participants in the construction of the first Jones Act compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, which will create jobs and provide a reliable, home-grown installation solution with the capacity to handle the next generation of large-scale, highly-efficient turbine technologies.”
This effort represents a significant step in developing a domestic manufacturing supply chain to support the multi-GW 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 GW of planned offshore wind generation off the East Coast 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 biggest 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 MW or larger and will also be capable of the installation of foundations for turbines and other heavy lifts.
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 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, Dominion Energy announced the selection of Huisman to fabricate the crane to be used on the installation vessel. The main crane has a boom length of 426 feet and an expected lifting capacity of 2,200 tons. Seajacks, a company that specializes 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 Jones Act is a federal law that regulates maritime commerce in the U.S. and requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on ships that are built, owned and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.