Renewing the power lines of America’s first offshore wind farm

America’s first offshore wind farm was constructed in 2016 and can be found just out of the Rhode Island coast line. Back during the construction, the wind farm’s power distribution lines were placed on the bottom of the sea and have endured 5 years of saltwater and sediment build-up. The time has come for replacement, for which Brownline surveyed a 3116 feet drill job.

Block Island is a small island off the coast of Rhode Island. The island’s population is normally around 1,000 people, but this number quadruples during the holiday season with many tourists visiting. In the past, the island had to rely on 5 large diesel powered generators for its power supply. Not only did the enormous usage of fossil fuel lead to high costs, but it also caused serious damage to the island’s number one tourist attraction; the beautiful nature. To put an end to this pollution and to ensure that future generations will be able to visit Block Island’s nature, the construction of an offshore wind farm to generate electricity was started in 2016. The park’s 5 wind turbines have a combined capacity of 30MW, which is enough to generate electricity for no less than 17,000 households. Carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 40,000 tons each year, which in 20 years will be the equivalent of taking over 150,000 cars off the road.

Replacing the power lines will be done in steps. The first segment to be replaced is the connection between the wind farm and Block Island. The trajectory of this 3116 feet drill is set out at 85 feet below the sea bed, to avoid salt water corrosion to the power lines. A 16 inch HDPE pipe will be placed as housing for the power lines. The drill’s entry point is located at the Block Island shoreline, which means that the exit point is situated below the sea bed. Asides from this complicating factor, there were also numerous existing cables and power lines to be kept in mind, as well as a mix of soil types. While drilling, abrupt changes from soft sand to hard rock were encountered many times. Together, these circumstances could make a challenging mix.

However, none of these factors were of any influence on the Drillguide Gyro Steering Tool. By putting our system to work, the drill was concluded successfully and the first step towards making this wind farm future proof once more has been taken!

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