Photos: Massive blades for nation’s first major offshore wind project arrive in New Bedford
The offshore wind turbine blades that arrived in New Bedford from Gaspé, Canada this week are undergoing a detailed inspection to ensure no damage occurred in shipping or unloading.
Workers unloaded the blades from a cargo ship and stacked them three high at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal on Wednesday and Thursday.
They’re the first six blades — enough for two GE Haliade-X turbines — to arrive for Vineyard Wind, which is expected to be the first large-scale offshore wind farm operating in the United States.
Jeff Lewis, a project director for GE, said the blades are made of carbon, glass, and resin, and require special care, both for worker safety and to protect the equipment.
“Just looking at the blades, you can see they're long,” he said. “They're a very awkward shape. And because they're made out of carbon, they're somewhat fragile to handle.”
Metal framing holds each 351-foot blade in a horizontal position, both on the transport ship and on land.
“As a team, we're having to learn how to do this operation, first and foremost, in a safe manner, so nobody gets hurt,” Lewis said. “And then obviously, we don't want to damage the equipment, either.”
Inspectors view each blade inside and out, he said. They climb the framing and step inside the blades from the open end, which measures 16 feet across.
More blades are expected to arrive about every week and a half during construction.
The terminal can hold enough components for 16 of the 62 turbines for Vineyard Wind 1, Lewis said. Once installation begins offshore this summer, the terminal will have space for more components.
The first tower sections arrived May 24. Later this month, workers will begin assembling the bottom two pieces of each tower at the terminal. The top section of the tower and other parts are assembled offshore.
The nacelles — the generator assemblies at the top of a turbine — are scheduled to start arriving in midsummer.
Installation of turbine foundations began this week, 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
When it's complete, the wind farm will be capable of generating 800 megawatts of power annually, enough to power 400,000 homes.