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Netherlands firm leads historical operation for design of US offshore wind first

Fugro undertakes multi-million geophysical survey for Cape Wind construction and engineering process

Cape Wind will bring offshore wind power to the US for the first time

A Netherlands firm is leading what is claimed to be one of the most comprehensive geophysical surveys in US history to prepare for the final design of the country’s first offshore wind farm, Cape Wind. Cape Wind has commenced the major geotechnical and geophysical survey operation, as part of its construction design and engineering process and initial mobilisation of the project on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound.

The multi-million dollar offshore programme will continue through September/ October and involve up to 50 scientists, engineers, archaeologists and geologists using specialised vessels.

Fugro is the lead Cape Wind contractor undertaking the effort. The company is a leading global geotechnical survey firm that has performed similar work for a majority of the offshore wind farms built in European waters. Fugro’s US east coast operations are based in Norfolk, Virginia.

Tom McNeilan, Fugro vice president, said: “Cape Wind is undertaking one of the most comprehensive geophysical surveys in the history of the US North Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf for construction engineering. This work will build upon extensive geophysical and geotechnical work completed in obtaining the Federal permit for America’s first offshore wind farm over a nine year permitting effort.

“We are excited Fugro is involved with this pioneering project in helping catalyse and build a supply chain for the emerging US offshore wind power industry”, McNeilan added.

Cape Wind president Jim Gordon, said: “Our geotechnical programme this summer on Horseshoe Shoal begins our detailed design engineering and construction phase and will allow us to optimise our project to ensure that Cape Wind will deliver its important clean energy benefits over its design life.”

Fugro will be assisted by Massachusetts contractors including New Bedford based Fathom Research who will work together with the University of Rhode Island performing sediment analysis. Also involved are Waltham-based ESS Group who are providing environmental engineering services and who will also oversee the marine mammal monitoring programme to minimise any disturbance to marine mammals from the project activities on Horseshoe Shoal.

The first phase of the four-phase geology programme will involve continuous offshore presence on the project site. The four phases are: 1) a geophysical survey which employs state-of-the-art acoustic imaging to map the seafloor and the submerged layers below the seafloor; 2) Obtaining and analysing vibracore samples that will build upon previous surveys to look for paleosols and help ensure there are no cultural artifacts present; 3) Cone Penetration Tests (CPTs) to be advanced into the subsurface to measure soil characteristics; And 4), Geotechnical exploration that will employ deep CPTs and deep borings.

Cape Wind has informed the US Coast Guard of the Project’s presence on Horseshoe Shoal, and a Notice to Mariners was issued on June 13, 2012. It said the announcement is part of Cape Wind’s ongoing effort to inform the public in advance of each new phase of America’s first offshore wind farm.