U.S. Ports score funding for offshore wind upgrades

The U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary has announced the award of more than $241 million in discretionary grant funding for 25 projects to improve port facilities. Two of these Ports are developing projects which aim to support offshore wind development.

The Portsmouth Marine Terminal Offshore Wind Development in Virginia was awarded $20 million in funds to enable it to serve as a staging area in support of offshore wind projects. The grant will fund construction of wind turbine generator staging area in the uplands adjacent to one of the terminal’s wharves and a second area where monopiles and other project components will be stored.

Back in August, the Port of Virginia has reached an agreement to lease a portion of the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to Dominion Energy.
Under the agreement, Dominion Energy will use 72 acres of the deep-water, multi-use marine cargo Portsmouth Marine Terminal as a staging and pre-assembly area for the foundations and turbines that will be installed 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach as part of its Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial scale project.

The lease term is 10 years—valued at nearly $4.4 million annually—and includes an option for two five-year renewals. The lease agreement includes significant upgrades to ensure the terminal can handle the weight of the large components that will be deployed to build the offshore wind turbines. Once the components are loaded onto ships, the vessels will travel to the construction site 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

The Department of Transportation Secretary also announced that the Albany, New York Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Port Project was awarded $29.5 million in funding to support the construction the necessary infrastructure to develop 81 acres of a vacant industrial area along the Hudson River immediately south of the existing Port District into an offshore wind tower manufacturing port. The project will also redevelop an additional 14.5 vacant acres inside the Port of Albany. The project scope encompasses the necessary infrastructure design and construction to develop the Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Port. This includes an access bridge and connector roadway, all internal roads, all utility site work and infrastructure, upland preparation, berth dredging, and 500 linear feet of 6,000 lb/sf heavy capacity wharf construction.

It follows an announcement in August that Marmen Welcon LLC (Marmen Welcon) has concluded a strategic alliance with European-based international steel construction company Smulders for the manufacturing of transition pieces at the Port of Albany. It is expected that the highly automated facility will be operational and producing transition pieces by the end of 2023. Port development is scheduled to begin later in 2021.

Following its selection to provide New York State with offshore wind power in one of the largest renewable energy procurements in the U.S. to date, Equinor will combine forces with Marmen and Welcon at the Port of Albany to help the port which will produce components for Equinor’s projects. They are driving a US$350 million investment at the Port of Albany, which is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Equinor and incoming strategic partner BP will provide 1,260 MW of renewable offshore wind power from
Empire Wind 2, and another 1,230 MW of power from Beacon Wind 1 – adding to the existing commitment to provide New York with 816 MW of renewable power from Empire Wind 1 – totalling 3.3 GW of power to the State. Both these projects are expected to be supported by the Port of Albany.