Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts is going to pilot a secondary bubble curtain – here’s what that is and why it’s great for the undersea environment.

Vineyard Wind

The 800 MW Vineyard Wind 1 is a 50-50 joint venture between clean energy company Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The $3.5 billion offshore wind farm will feature 62 Haliade-X 13 MW turbines, and it will supply clean energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts and reduce carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year. It’s expected to come online at the end of this year.

Vineyard Wind is now working on the secondary bubble curtain pilot with Massachusetts- and Connecticut-based ThayerMahan, a firm that specializes in seabed surveys, acoustic mitigation, and monitoring.

ThayerMahan, which partners with German bubble curtain tech leader Hydrotechnik-Luebeck – will be the first US company to provide bubble curtain services to the US offshore wind industry.

Bubble curtains

It’s extremely noisy when foundation structures such as monopiles or jacket foundations are driven into the seabed using large hydraulic hammers. The noise and vibrations created during that foundation work can be harmful to marine life, particularly to fish and marine mammals such as dolphins and whales.

That’s where bubble curtains come in.

A bubble curtain is underwater noise insulation that involves releasing a stream of air bubbles from a perforated hose or pipe on the seafloor.

The bubble curtain reduces the noise and vibrations that would otherwise propagate through the water. The bubbles absorb the sound energy and also create a barrier that reflects sound waves back toward the source.

A secondary bubble curtain, which is what Vineyard Wind is piloting, is a second layer of bubbles released at a greater distance from the pile. It’s created by placing additional air hoses or pipes in a circle around the primary bubble curtain, releasing bubbles at a lower pressure and higher flow rate. The primary and secondary bubble curtains work together to reduce the impact of noise and vibration during construction.

Bubble curtains are relatively inexpensive to install and can be easily deployed and removed as needed.

With credit to Petter Neumann, this animated video demonstrates how bubble curtains work:

Read more: The first huge piece of the first major US offshore wind farm is ready

Photo: Vineyard Wind

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