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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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An RPS Protected Species Observer standing watch on deck

Vineyard Wind 1: Protected species monitoring and mitigation

ON THIS PAGE

The RPS Protected Species Observer service are supporting the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the US, deploying highly experienced personnel and sophisticated technology during the construction stage.

Client: DEME Group

Project: Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm

Location: Eastern US, off Massachusetts

Project stage: Construction/installation. (First power generation achieved in January 2024.)

Work began: Spring 2023

Services provided:
•    In-field Protected Species Observers (PSOs)

•    Permitting compliance/assurance

•    Project management of acoustic monitoring

•    Overseeing data collection and regulatory reporting 

•    Leading communications with the installation contractor during protected species monitoring/mitigation

•    Development of protected species regulatory plans.

Fast-moving challenges for Vineyard Wind 1

As an ‘industry first’, this high-profile project has been subject to an extremely high level of scrutiny over permitting and compliance. RPS answered the challenge of rapidly evolving requirements with a highly responsive, experienced team. Their job was to ensure compliance with regulations set out to avoid impacts on marine life during offshore development.

The evolving nature of regulations in US offshore wind is very different from project types where permits are well-understood and requirements have stood for decades, such as in oil and gas. This project was also the first in which such extensive PSO and data collection requirements have existed for US offshore construction. We worked closely with a number of regulatory agencies throughout, adapting to meet their needs and providing creative solutions based on our extensive experience in protected species compliance monitoring in the U.S. 

For this project, RPS created US offshore wind’s first environmental compliance and operations plans approved for foundation installation. These plans define how the actual execution of permit requirements will take place.

  • Gonzalez,Diego VW1 Orion Image Resized

    Night-vision

  • An RPS Protected Species Observer standing watch on deck

    Standing watch on deck

  • Gonzalez, Diego Vnyard Wind1 Orionl 092423

    Documenting sightings is a key part of PSO activities.

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  • An RPS Protected Species Observer standing watch on deck
  • Gonzalez, Diego Vnyard Wind1 Orionl 092423

"It takes a village": Finding solutions and setting standards

Our large, multidisciplinary team included data managers who oversaw a huge volume of complex data collected by PSOs in the field. This project was an opportunity to set the tone for future developments and we worked to set out robust data collection practices.

RPS technologists supervised sophisticated monitoring equipment, including installation of camera technology for detecting protected species in low light. (In this region, low-light conditions and fog create significant challenges.) This was the first use of this technology in this application, and RPS drew on our track record in developing new technology and research design protocols.

We have developed a deep relationship with Vineyard Wind throughout the development of their wind farm, during data collection under both their SAP and COP, and supporting geophysical, geotechnical and benthic surveys – drawing on a thorough understanding of project requirements, and underlining our reputation for quality of work. The project also benefitted from our established safety management and quality management systems.

Looking to the future

Vineyard Wind 1 generated its first power in January 2024. In the same month, Stephanie Milne, who led the PSO programme, was recognised with a prestigious award for Environmental Excellence by Vineyard Wind. She says:
 
Supporting Vineyard Wind 1, we have learned so much about what technologies need to be developed to help future efforts. At RPS, we’re not sitting back and saying, this is the best we can be! We continue to build partnerships and to consolidate our knowledge of compliance execution and assurance. What we learn can be used to strengthen future permit applications and for use by agencies, developers and the wider industry.”
 
Our PSO team has a long history on complex, large-scale projects, with transferable experience from both renewables and other offshore development. We deploy some of the industry’s most experienced PSOs, who are all certified and regulatory agency approved. Our offshore personnel also have round-the-clock support from logistics, Health & Safety, and other office-based specialists (a level of support that is unique in the PSO field). Click below to find out more.