The growth of the offshore-wind energy industry is creating industrial shifts not only in regional electric power grids but also in the specialized logistics processes required to move and install the colossal physical components that support the spinning turbines, according to the Port of Virginia.
Last week, crews at the facility spent two-and-a-half days using specialized handling equipment to offload eight huge monopile foundations. That hardware was the first shipment of components for Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project. Located 27 miles off the shores of Virginia Beach, the project will someday power up to 660,000 homes.
Port officials said the job marks their progress in an effort to become the primary logistics center for the Mid-Atlantic’s growing offshore-wind energy industry. In preparation to become a logistics hub in the wind industry, the Port of Virginia recently repurposed its Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) from its original use as a container terminal to become capable of handling the large and heavy components used in the construction of offshore wind turbines.
The 287-acre PMT facility is located on deep water, has on-dock rail access, and offers ample open space for storage/staging. Additionally, the port is investing more than $220 million to reinforce the pavement of the terminal’s cargo yard, rebuild the berth, and rework the vessel mooring configuration.
Those upgrades are necessary because of the sheer heft of the “monopiles” used to erect wind-generating turbines from the sea floor. Each metal tube measures 250 feet long and weighs 1,500 tons, requiring workers to move them one at a time from the delivery vessel to the shore using specially-built mobile cradles.
“We are investing in PMT to ensure it can handle this kind of cargo and it easily passed this first test,” Stephen Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, said in a release. “Our work here is progressing according to schedule and this terminal is well-situated to meet the needs of the CVOW project. There is going to be a lot of activity taking place here during the next year, and The Port of Virginia is going to establish itself as the Mid-Atlantic’s logistics hub for offshore wind.”