​Stantec to lead environmental assessment for milestone Deepwater Wind project

Edmonton-based design firm Stantec is getting in on the bottom floor of the U.S. offshore wind industry with a contract to lead the environmental assessment for the Skipjack Wind Farm, an offshore wind project being developed by Deepwater Wind off the coast of Maryland.

Deepwater Wind’s 120-megawatt (MW) Skipjack Wind Farm is Maryland’s first offshore wind farm, with the potential to deliver enough renewable energy to power 35,000 Maryland homes.

“We are committed to supporting Deepwater Wind through a streamlined and thorough process in the assessment and permitting of this milestone renewable energy project,” Diane Sullivan, sector leader for Renewable Energy at Stantec, said in a statement.

Long a laggard compared to the booming European offshore wind sector, the U.S. appears set to flourish with several projects announced and on the drawing board across the U.S. northeast.

In the past month alone, Massachusetts awarded its first offshore wind contract to Vineyard Wind for a 800 MW, 100-turbine farm as part of its commitment to purchase 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind by 2027, and Rhode Island selected the Revolution Wind project, also to be developed by Deepwater Wind, to start construction about 20 kilometres south of Martha’s Vineyard in 2022.

Additionally, New Jersey mandated a 3,500 MW offshore-wind goal for that state by 2030, while New York announced earlier this year an offshore-wind master plan that foresees a $6 billion industry with 2,400 MW of capacity by 2030. There have also been offshore lease sales in Virginia, North Carolina and Delaware.

A leading U.S. offshore wind developer, Deepwater Wind is the only company so far to fully build and operate an offshore wind farm in the United States - the Block Island Wind Farm located off the coast of Rhode Island.

Environmental assessment expertise

Stantec has a team based locally in Laurel, Maryland, along with technical and regulatory experts along the East Coast who will lead the Skipjack environmental assessment. It will lead a team of local biologists, engineers, marine archaeologists and other researchers to conduct extensive marine and environmental assessments. Stantec said it is supported by Maryland-based environmental firms to facilitate the project’s state and federal permitting efforts.

“With the ongoing expansion of the offshore wind energy sector along the East Coast, the Stantec team provides a unique set of skills and expertise to support clients in the planning and delivery of such complex energy generation projects," Sullivan said.

“Stantec brings over 30 years’ experience in wind energy project development, permitting and marine systems, coupled with a diverse local team of environmental specialists and scientists, to deliver comprehensive, tailored guidance and project solutions."

Located over 30 kilometres to the northeast of Ocean City, the Skipjack Wind Farm will be “over the horizon,” far enough away that it won’t have a significant impact on beach views from Maryland or Delaware.

The project will deliver significant benefits for Marylanders, according to Deepwater Wind, which plans to invest approximately US$200 million in Maryland during Skipjack’s construction phase. It also plans to establish the project’s permanent operations and maintenance facility in the greater Ocean City area, creating jobs over the project’s 25-year life.

In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center estimated in its Offshore Wind Workforce Report that, considering direct and indirect effects, “the deployment of 1,600 MW of offshore wind is estimated to support between 6,870 and 9,850 job years over the next ten years and generate a total economic impact in Massachusetts of between $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion.”

The U.S. Department of Energy predicts U.S. offshore wind capacity to grow from 30 MW today to 22,000 MW by 2030. For comparison, Europe has some 16,000 MW of offshore wind installed and has seen prices drop so low that projects are now going ahead without subsidies.