Building a windmill power generator in the ocean is an adventure, and the Block Island Wind Farm project under construction off the Rhode Island coast — the first of its kind in the United States — has had a few exciting moment this fall.
The five underwater foundation towers for the project have been delivered by barge and set in place, the Block Island Times reported (see: "B.I. Wind Farm foundations completed," by Cassius Shuman), and crews are now working to install decks atop the structures. Two decks were installed last week, the Times reported (see: "B.I. Wind Farm decks installed," by Cassius Shuman).
Rough weather in recent weeks added some challenge to the work. At one point, wind and waves caused barges to break loose from their moorings at the offshore construction site, the Times reported (see: "Barges carrying turbine decks break loose," by Cassius Shuman). And work was delayed for seven hours when a humpback whale visited the area, reported ecoRI News (see: "Visiting Humpback Whale Delays Wind Farm Work," by Tim Faulkner).
Under-sea pile-driving noise can damage sea mammals who use echo-location to navigate and use sound to communicate. So the wind farm project operates under restrictive rules: No pile-driving is allowed at all between November 1 and May 1, so that migrating animals will be protected.
Deepwater Wind says all the towers will soon be decked, and work will stop for the winter. Next spring and summer, the wind turbines will be installed, and the project is expected to start generating power in fall of 2016.