Ørsted to survey Indian River area as Skipjack wind project moves forward


Wind power giant Ørsted is surveying Delaware’s Indian River Inlet as part of its Skipjack project.

In the spring, Ørsted will continue its evaluation of potential landfall and interconnection locations in coastal areas in Delaware to support the development of Skipjack Wind, an offshore wind project that will deliver energy to approximately 300,000 homes in the region.

U.S. flagged survey vessels will conduct surveys in Indian River Bay and at locations along the Delaware coast offshore of Towers Beach and 3R’s Beach. The vessels will collect precise data about the nature and characteristics of the bay and seafloor. The MV Trinity will be one of the vessels used in the survey. (See image above).

The work could begin in late February with all surveys completed before Memorial Day Weekend. If surveys cannot be undertaken in that timeframe, surveys may resume in September after Labor Day.  Exact dates and schedules are being finalized and will be shared with the public before the work gets underway.

Ørsted will use the data in a review of potential grid connection locations for Skipjack Wind in Delaware.


Surveys to determine connection to the grid

Ørsted has developed a proactive strategy for avoiding impacts to protected whales, other marine mammals, and sea turtles during survey operations. The survey vessels will use survey equipment that is not expected to result in impacts to protected species. Vessel crews will monitor for protected species so that mitigation measures can be implemented, and all crew will be trained on these measures.

Ørsted said those interested in the survey vessel can review its online Mariners Briefings at https://us.orsted.com/wind-projects/mariners

“Ørsted is proud to develop, construct, and operate its projects. As such, Ørsted takes seriously its responsibility to be a good neighbor and a steward of the environment and is committed to a dialogue with stakeholders in Delaware about potential landfall and interconnection locations before final decisions are made,” a fact sheet stated. “Ørsted and regulators will meet with Delaware stakeholders and solicit feedback on several potential locations before final decisions are made, and then complete landfall and interconnection with the goal of minimizing environmental and community impact during construction and during operation.”

Prominently mentioned is the site of the Indian River coal-fired power plant slated for closing. According to Coastal Point will remain open for a time as work is done to beef up the grid in anticipation of the changing power mix.

Indian River coal power plant site a possibility

The Indian River site, which will require environmental clean-up once it closes, could be used for onshore wind, solar, or both.

A proposed hook-up at a portion of Fenwick Island State Park in Delaware was abandoned due to environmental issues.

The mayor of Ocean City, MD, has been fiercely opposed to the location of Skipjack and the nearby USWind project and would like to see the turbines moved 30 miles offshore.

The two projects will count toward Maryland’s mandate of getting half its electricity from renewables by 2030.

Delaware has a less ambitious 40% mandate but at present will have to buy most of its power from out-of-state sources.

Delaware’s Bluewater offshore wind project about 10 miles off Rehoboth Beach fell victim to a sluggish economy and financing issues a decade ago. Since then, wind turbine towers have grown in size and efficiency and would be visible from Deepwater’s original location.

Opposition makes case

Offshore wind projects have also drawn opposition from David Stevenson an official with the Delaware-based Caesar Rodney Institute. Stevenson has been involved in lawsuits to halt other offshore wind projects outside of Maryland that cite everything from the possible impact on whales and migratory birds to the impact on tourism.

Wind power advocates dismiss such arguments, citing the performance of energy generation in Europe and the possibility that the turbine bases could provide a home for sea life, similar to the sunken ships and subway cars that created artificial reefs of the Delaware coast.

Regarding the visibility of the towers, wind power backers say the structures on the clearest days would amount to a spack on the horizon. In addition, technology would address the worries about aircraft beacons from the towers dotting the night sky, with lights only flashing when aircraft approach.