Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between AVANGRID Inc.’s Avangrid Renewables subsidiary and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), has signed a new multi-year collaboration with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to deploy a passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) device to record ambient sound and marine mammal species vocalizations in the OCS-A 501 lease area.
The monitoring device will record underwater sound a minimum of 30 days before the start of offshore construction and will remain active through at least 3 years of operations and maintenance (O&M).
“As the first commercial scale offshore wind farm in the U.S., we’ve tried to set a very high bar when it comes to marine mammal and environmental protections,” says Klaus Skoust Moeller, CEO of Vineyard Wind. “Our collaboration with the University of New Hampshire allows us to leverage their significant local expertise and build on existing scientific capacity in New England to support future work in this growing industry. The data we collect in this program will allow us to make informed, science-based decisions that will allow responsible wind energy development with minimal impact on the marine environment.”
The University of New Hampshire previously led the Atlantic Deepwater Ecosystem Observatory Network, a baseline acoustic data collection project in the mid- and south-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.
“Sound is the dominant sensory mode for life underwater, and as the regional oceans become busier, sound from human activity has the possibility of masking biologically important sounds which could potentially alter the local ocean soundscape and impact marine life,” mentions Jennifer Miksis-Olds, research professor and director of UNH’s Center for Acoustics Research and Education. “This exciting collaboration with Vineyard Wind will provide valuable data that could help make a positive difference in effective monitoring and mitigation of marine mammals and be a model for future ocean users to be sound environmental stewards.”
Under the terms of the contract, Vineyard Wind and UNH will partner for a five-year period that overlaps both the construction and O&M phase of the offshore wind project. The program will provide tuition assistance for graduate students in UNH’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences who will participate in the data collection and analysis. Students will use the data to determine the species and numbers of marine mammals that may be present in the Vineyard Wind lease area, and the types and the amount of sound that is created by the offshore wind project. The project recordings will be compared with data that UNH already has in-house from its other scientific endeavors in the Atlantic region.
Vineyard Wind, an 800 MW project located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, will utilize 62, 13 MW General Electric Haliade-X wind turbines that will be connected to an offshore substation, where the power will be transferred to two export cables that will make landfall at Covell’s beach and connect to the grid at an inland substation. As a result of the cable laying, the Town of Barnstable and Vineyard Wind are collaborating on a long-awaited sewer improvement project, saving the town millions of dollars. Vineyard Wind 1 will begin delivering clean energy to Massachusetts in 2023.