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Offshore Wind Development

offshore wind turbines

Strong economic and policy winds are powering the clean energy movement in America that aims to decarbonize large parts of our energy system. Renewable energy from offshore wind is poised to play an important role in the energy mix of our future. Major expansion of available wind energy areas and unprecedented investment in offshore wind promises an exciting next generation of local, renewable energy growth for the United States.

Integral Consulting Inc. helps clients recognize key natural resource, environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic risks that require active management across different phases of development. We collaborate with our clients and stakeholders across disciplines, across wind energy regions, and in diverse partnerships because this next generation of offshore energy will require innovation, perspective, and creativity to achieve offshore wind’s potential to benefit the United States. We focus on finding solutions to the key “non-technical risks” that can halt projects in their tracks because they lie outside and sometimes across the jurisdictional, regulatory, and technical assessments that steer regulators and developers alike.

Integral’s extensive modeling capabilities and state-of-the-art survey tools produce a holistic understanding of the marine environment. This foundational understanding reduces risk for wind farm developers and operators while helping create sustainable approaches for all marine users.

Key Staff

Team Lead

Ian Voparil, Ph.D.
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Team

Craig Jones, Ph.D.
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Team

Damian V. Preziosi
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Team

Head shot of Grace Chang

Grace Chang, Ph.D.
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Eugene C. Revelas
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Team

Kaustubha Raghukumar, Ph.D.
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Offshore Wind Development Timeline

Each stage of development has its own challenges. Integral’s staff have the experience of helping stakeholders at each phase.

Use the timeline below to see where we can help you complete each phase of the project.

Offshore Wind Timeline Graphic Planning Leasing Assessment Construction Operation Decommission
Offshore Wind
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    Planning & Analysis

    To support the identification of suitable areas for wind energy leasing, Integral provides the following services to regulators and potential investors and developers:

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    • Evidence-based frameworks and marine spatial planning to identify, evaluate, and resolve potential conflicts between new and existing ocean users
    • Predictive regional modeling to evaluate the impacts of potential offshore wind development on oceanographic, ecological, and socioeconomic systems
    • Oceanographic data analysis and baseline assessments
    • Environmental assessments
      • Sensitive and critical habitats
      • Sediment transport and hydrodynamic modeling
      • Seafloor disturbance​
      • Ocean sound and acoustics—marine mammal detection, classification, and localization; sound source estimates; particle motion around wind turbines; soundscape modeling; and risk assessment frameworks​
      • Electromagnetic fields in ocean and air
      • Essential fish habitat and fisheries
      • Impact assessment​
      • Cumulative effects
    • Natural resource economic assessments (e.g., fisheries)
    • Risk management and decision support
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    Leasing

    The leasing phase results in the issuance of a commercial wind energy lease, which gives the lessee the exclusive right to consider offshore wind development of a specific offshore area.

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    The lease does not grant the lessee the right to construct any facilities, but rather the right to use the lease area to develop increasingly more specific additional plans, including a site assessment plan and a construction and operations plan, that require regulatory approval by authorities before the lessee can continue.
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    Site Assessment

    After winning a lease, lessees have up to 1 year to engage the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), develop a suitable site assessment plan (SAP), and begin the responsible, site-specific evaluation of baseline conditions for suitable engineering, design, and site layout of their potential wind farm. SAPs are prepared in accordance with 30 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §§ 585.606, 610, and 611, as well as the Guidelines for Information Requirements for a Renewable Energy SAP issued by BOEM (current version June 2019). Important conditions to be investigated include the following:

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    • Wind resource assessments to support site selection, yield optimization, array engineering, and financial investment decisions. These are usually obtained via deployment of floating LiDAR systems, but existing infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico will offer an interesting “fixed” alternative to consider. Along with wind resource assessment, lessees should consider a cost-benefit analysis of deploying additional instrumentation that offers longer-term, site-specific environmental and ecological information in “greenfield” areas that have had less historical investigation and may have significant litigation risk.
    • Geophysical and geotechnical investigations to evaluate seafloor conditions to support front-end engineering of foundations and identification of geohazards, sensitive habitats, and archeological resources, as well as cable routing. Lessees can consider multibeam mapping ground-truthed with sediment profile imagery to allow rapid development of quantitative seafloor maps that exceed industry standards for engineering and environmental information. Integral has successfully conducted nine environmental baseline surveys for multiple wind farm projects off the U.S. East Coast.
    • Metocean assessments of wind, wave, currents, sediment transport, and other oceanographic conditions to model interactions with proposed structures, cable armoring, and scour protection. Integral performs cost-effective and streamlined approaches to project planning, data collection, analysis, and modeling for offshore wind projects, using long-term oceanographic databases, remotely sensed ocean data, commercially available databases, and both shallow and deepwater measurement systems. Integral has worked with multiple regulatory agencies to use SEDFlume to provide an in situ measure of seafloor stability and erodibility.
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    Construction

    After the approval of the SAP, lessees have up to 5 years to develop an approved construction and operations plan (COP), and perform additional site characterization and site assessment activities before construction activities start. The COP is a detailed construction, operations, and conceptual decommissioning plans for the lease, including onshore and support facilities and anticipated project easements. COPs are prepared in accordance with 30 CFR § 585.626 and must detail compliance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental laws. BOEM has issued Information Guidelines for a Renewable Energy COP (current version May 2020).
    To develop the COP, surveys are required to inform the design of the project and provide information to comply with NEPA and other relevant laws. These surveys collect data on potential hazards (meteorology, oceanography, sediment transport, geology, and shallow geological or manmade hazards), water quality, biological resources (including threatened and endangered species, and sensitive resources and habitat), archaeological resources, social and economic resources, coastal and marine uses, consistency certification from the affected coastal state, and other resources, conditions, and activities identified by BOEM.

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    • Electromagnetic field models of offshore and onshore cables for ecological and human-health effects
    • Biological surveys to provide site-specific investigation of fisheries, benthic and other critical habitats, and marine mammals and sea turtles that may be impacted by the project’s activities
    • Marine acoustics for marine mammal detection, classification, and localization, soundscape modeling and risk assessment, including a proprietary technology to measure associated particle motion that may affect some fish and marine invertebrates
    • Collaborative opportunities for circumstances that require “beyond the lease” information to address concerns such as cumulative effects, migratory species, and ocean noise
    • Data analytics and assimilation
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    Operation

    Integral designs fit-for-purpose monitoring programs using best-available science and data standardization protocols to measure environmental performance for the long run.

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    Whether project-specific or regional in scale, developers are required to synthesize multiple efforts into detailed reports for continuing regulator and stakeholder evaluation. Adaptive management frameworks continually evaluate performance, address uncertainty, and find opportunities for continuous improvement and streamlining while also assuring environmental performance.
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    Decommission

    Fully decommissioning an offshore wind farm is the least cost-effective strategy for owners and operators, so other options need to be considered, even during the early days of front-end planning of the development.

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    Improvements in technology at the end of 25 years in service may make life extension and repowering attractive financial and technical options. Challenging regulatory frameworks and incomplete information on the environmental costs—or benefits—of decommissioning need to be addressed through the environmental monitoring program agreed with the Construction and Operations Plan. Doing so right from the start allows a scientific foundation and proper accounting for an offshore wind farm’s environmental, ecological, and socioeconomic benefits that would otherwise go unrecognized. Integral advises clients and stakeholders on the key data needs drawn from our experience with long-term environmental monitoring programs for rigs to reefs, marine protected areas, essential fish habitat, and socioeconomic assessment of fisheries.
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    Litigation

    Offshore wind development in the U.S. has drawn considerable opposition from other users of the oceans, coastal landowners, and environmental organizations that has resulted in litigation against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and developers.

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    Litigation highlights the serious concerns about competition for marine territory and often alleges violations of environmental laws during the permitting of offshore wind projects, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act , Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Incidental Harassment Authorizations. Integral’s expertise and experience can mitigate litigation risk during each stage of planning and development including:

    • Evidence-based frameworks and marine spatial planning to identify, evaluate, and resolve potential conflicts between new and existing ocean users
    • Stakeholder engagement to scope and address environmental, cultural, environmental justice, and socioeconomic issues
    • Experts in impact assessment and development of mitigations and operational performance standards based upon best-available science
    • Innovation in cumulative impact analysis and programmatic assessments.
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    Ports

    Integral applies its breadth of engineering and scientific expertise to port development projects that are in the works to meet the growth and needs of offshore wind in the United States.

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    • From legal support to project planning through construction, our engineering teams develop practical solutions to meet our clients’ challenges. We prepare engineering plans and specifications, obtain permits, provide construction management, and advise real estate transactions.
    • Site-specific wave, current, and sediment transport models for feasibility assessments and engineering and construction management.
    • Modeling and measurement of seafloor stability and sediment transport for scour and burial assessments using our proprietary technology (e.g., SEDflume; Voyager Series benthic flumes, and cohesive strength meter).
    • Benthic habitat characterization, including evaluation of water and sediment contamination and ecologically important habitats.