First Large-Scale Offshore Wind Farm in Americas Can Enter Construction

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the final Clean Air Act Outer Continental Shelf air quality permit to Vineyard Wind 1, LLC, the developer of the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm.

GE Haliade-X wind turbine. Source: GE

The permit includes air pollution control requirements for the construction and operation of the 800 MW wind farm.

By issuing this permit, construction can now begin on the nation’s first major offshore wind project, which will be in federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts, EPA said.

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The permit regulates pollutants from “Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) sources,” such as jack-up barges that will construct each wind turbine and the electrical service platforms.

Additionally, emissions associated with air-emitting devices used during the operation of the wind farm, i.e., generators used as a source of back-up electricity for space conditioning where sensitive electronics are housed, are also regulated.

“The innovative Clean Air Act permit issued for the Vineyard Wind project will ensure that the vessels working to construct the wind farm operate with the best available technology to reduce emissions of air pollution during the construction and ongoing operation of the wind farm,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro.

“The Biden Administration has called on the nation to build a clean energy economy and expand opportunities for development of an American offshore wind industry. EPA New England is proud to play a role helping to accomplish this goal.”

The Vineyard Wind 1 energy project will contribute to the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of generating 30 GW of energy from offshore wind by 2030.

The project will be located approximately 12 nautical miles offshore Martha’s Vineyard and 12 nautical miles offshore Nantucket in the northern portion of Vineyard Wind’s lease area. The wind farm will feature GE Haliade-X wind turbines.

According to the US Department of the Interior, when the project is completed the energy-generating potential of this wind farm will power up to 400,000 homes and businesses and will create an estimated 3,600 jobs.

The action by EPA is the first of seven wind farms, totaling over 4,000 MW of proposed capacity, that EPA Region 1 is evaluating for Clean Air Act construction and operating permits on the OCS over the next several years.

Consistent with Clean Air Act requirements for Outer Continental Shelf sources, to-and-fro vessel emissions were considered to be direct emissions from the source. When considering these vessel emissions, as well as emissions associated with construction, operation, and maintenance-related activities, the permit requires stringent “lowest achievable emissions rates” for oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds, as well as “best available control technologies” for particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, oxides of nitrogen, and greenhouse gases. Additionally, the permit requires emission offsets for oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds. This is the first of several wind farm projects proposed on the outer continental shelf south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

EPA issued its draft permit to Vineyard Wind in June 2019, and held a public hearing on its action in New Bedford, Massachusetts in August 2019. The agency relied on analyses conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to fulfill its obligation to demonstrate compliance with the Endangered Species Act, Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

With the finalization of BOEM’s Record of Decision on 10 May, EPA was then able to issue its final air quality permit.

Vineyard Wind, LLC. is a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP).