Why America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Used FRP

Block Island Wind Farm

The first U.S.-based commercial offshore wind farm, Block Island, is up, running, and thriving thanks in part to the fiberglass reinforced plastics products used in the project. This milestone proves the overwhelming potential for the use of FRP in the offshore wind industry, similar to how FRP is used in the offshore oil & gas industry. Its unique properties can stand up to the harsh ocean winds and highly concentrated saltwater much better than traditional materials can. At Block Island, FRP grating is used mostly on the operations platform where workers control the entire system of five massive turbines.

The large offshore composite platform took two years to complete and uses 250,000 square feet of fiberglass grating. Offshore platforms run the risk of major corrosion, fires, and slippery surfaces, so the materials used in construction are chosen carefully. FRP solves those problems with excellent durability, corrosion resistance, a gritted surface, and flame-resistant treatments. That means it won’t degrade, there’s less of a chance for slips and injuries, and there’s a reduced risk of fire damage. FRP is also a very light material, another benefit for offshore platforms.

The blades are made of fiberglass reinforced epoxy resin and the nacelles (coverings that house turbine generator components) are made of fiberglass-reinforced laminated panels with multiple fire-protecting properties.

Here at Bedford, we’ve used molded and pultruded FRP grating in similar projects for years. It’s commonly used on offshore rigs since it can stand up to saltwater in a way that traditional building materials can’t. The fact of the matter is that wood rots, steel rusts, and aluminum dents — but FRP doesn’t have any of those drawbacks, making it ideal for any project susceptible to corrosion. Our customers choose FRP grating because the benefits are so widespread — and this wind farm project shows that.

Whether you’re working on a project in offshore wind, oil & gas, or another industry that deals with corrosive environments, contact Bedford Reinforced Plastics. We’ll work with you to engineer a solution that meets your requirements, and deliver it to your job site in a way that makes it easy for your contractors to install with standard tools. Fiberglass grating can be used in many additional applications such as industrial platforms, stairs, decking, catwalks, and much more.