Alstom has signed a contract to supply five 6 MW wind turbines, of the Haliade 150-6MW type, for Deepwater Wind’s 30 MW Block Island pilot project off the coast of Rhode Island, one of the first offshore wind farms in the USA.

The Block Island pilot wind farm, due to enter operation in 2016, is envisaged as the first phase in an offshore wind farm of more than 1 GW capacity, supported by a regional transmission system linking Long Island, New York and south-eastern New England. The project is aligned with the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s "Smart from the Start" offshore wind programme, which aims to accelerate the development of offshore wind along the eastern seaboard of the US.

The project also "represents an important technological step for the Haliade 150-6MW", says Alstom. Along with the installation of two Haliade 150-6MW machines in Europe – one onshore at le Carnet (western France) and the second offshore at Ostend, Belgium – the "pilot farm in the US will enable Alstom to develop its offshore technology to the point where it can launch serial production", the company says.

The Haliade 150-6MW turbines will be manufactured in two new Alstom facilities in France: nacelles and generators at Saint-Nazaire, in a factory due for completion at the end of 2014; and blades and towers in a planned facility at Cherbourg.

Under the turbine supply contract, Deepwater Wind made an initial multi-million dollar payment to Alstom in December 2013 that allowed Alstom to begin the manufacturing process for the turbines. Specifically, Alstom has begun procurement of all 15 blades for the wind farm, which will be delivered to Deepwater Wind in Europe in April 2014.

"Deepwater Wind’s multi-million dollar payment to begin manufacturing our project’s 15 blades ensures that our project will qualify for the federal Investment Tax Credit," Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said. "When combined with engineering and permitting work we already completed, we’re confident this payment puts us significantly over the required 5 percent ‘safe harbor’ for the ITC."

The Block Island contract also includes 15 years of operations and maintenance support.

Other planned deployments of the Haliade 150-6MW include three French offshore wind farms (Courseulles-sur-Mer, Fécamp and Saint-Nazaire) won by EDF and its partners as a result of the first French call for offshore tenders and potentially the Le Tréport and Yeu-Noimoutier wind farms in the second round.

In Germany, KNK Wind (the project development company for Arcadis Ost 1) intends to use Haliade 150-6MW machines in its planned project to install 58 offshore turbines in the Baltic Sea.

The Haliade 150-6MW wind turbine uses the direct-drive principle, with permanent-magnet generator and no gearbox, as well as the Pure Torque concept which transfers mechanical stresses to the tower rather than to the generator, helping to optimise performance and reliability. The 150 m diameter rotor "provides an energy yield that is 15% better than existing offshore turbines," says Alstom, "supporting the effort to drive down the cost of energy from offshore wind."

Siemens recently announced it was supplying its 3.6 MW offshore wind turbines to what is likely to be the USA’s first large offshore wind project to enter the construction phase, Cape Wind, with a planned installed capacity of 468 MW. The Siemens contract also includes a 15 year service agreement and electric service platform.

Siemens had previously signed an agreement with Deepwater Wind to supply its direct drive 6 MW offshore turbines to the Block Island project.

Photo: Alstom Haliade(TM) 150-6MW offshore wind turbine. (PRNewsFoto/Alstom)