NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — There was some concern Monday morning regarding an offshore wind project happening down in the Clark’s Cove area of New Bedford’s South End, with rumors that a wind turbine was being erected off the shores of West Beach without any notification to the public.

However, what is being launched today is actually a prototype of a floating offshore wind turbine. The aluminum and fiberglass structure weighs 1,500 pounds and sits on a 19 foot-by-19 foot square platform, with a hub height of 27 feet off the water.

The blades on the turbine are 12 feet long, so when a blade is in the 12 o’clock position, the entire height of the structure will be 39 feet. It is 1/16th scale of a full-sized turbine.

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The structure is being launched as a prototype demonstration by T-Omega Wind to study the effect of the wind and waves on the anchors for these floating offshore wind turbines. It is expected to last roughly 60 days, depending on the weather.

“We want to find out three primary things,” Dave Forbes, Chief Commercial Officer for T-Omega Wind and project lead, told WBSM. “We’re testing the waves, testing the wind force, and also testing the acceleration force on the anchor mooring system.”

Courtesy Dennis Giammalvo
Courtesy Dennis Giammalvo

Forbes said the demonstration turbine is “not connected to the grid at all” and only generates power in the form of water moving through a hose.

Forbes said the anchor for the demonstration turbine is over-weighted, and the mooring can support the weight of a 40-plus-foot-long vessel that weighs 25,000-35,000 pounds. The turbine itself sits on four legs arranged in a pyramid shape.

The mooring was dropped last Monday with a 10A temporary mooring permit issued by the New Bedford Port Authority, Forbes said.

There had been some community concern expressed on WBSM Monday morning that there needed to be more permitting for such a project, but Blair Bailey, General Counsel for the New Bedford Port Authority, said that is not the case.

“That’s literally the only thing they needed,” Bailey told WBSM. “It’s a temporary mooring, and nothing dissimilar to what we issue on a regular basis for vessels all throughout the harbor.”

Callers into WBSM lamented a lack of information made available to the public regarding the research project.

“Once the mooring permit was issued, we met with Representatives (Antonio) Cabral and (Chris) Markey,” Forbes said. “At Rep. Cabral’s request, there will be a neighborhood meeting at the wastewater treatment plant Thursday, December 7 at 6 p.m.”

The research project is being supported by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, with grants totaling just south of $800,000 from organizations such as the National Science Foundation.

The research being done by T-Omega Wind is separate from an offshore wind research project recently reported on by the Standard-Times that is expected to begin in 2024.

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