An influx of wind turbines is planned for the U.S. East Coast, and Virginia could be a key player in a supply chain producing these massive structures.
The offshore wind industry offers significant economic potential for Virginia and for the entire the east coast. The federal Department of Energy estimates the industry could employ up to 40,000 people by 2030. With our low tax burden, highly skilled workforce and world class port infrastructure, Virginia is well-positioned to capture these economic benefits and become a hub for the offshore wind supply chain.
Gov. Ralph Northam is pushing a plan for Virginia — and Hampton Roads — to become a supply chain and service hub for offshore wind energy development in the Atlantic. The plan is part of a “roadmap” that the governor’s office recently released on ways to attract investors, developers and manufacturers as the offshore wind industry gathers steam in the U.S.
So, what appears to be a high cost for the CVOW project actually paves the way for stable, lower costs as the much larger wind farms come online over the long haul. Last, let’s not forget the important benefits of economic development and thousands of high-skilled local jobs, and the mitigation of sea level rise and coastal storm surges, a critical issue for Norfolk and other oceanfront communities.
CVOW supporters agree that investing in a pilot project with a higher per-kilowatt-hour cost but lower overall capital expenditures could lead to more rapid development of larger, less expensive offshore wind farms in the Southeast. Indeed, costs have dropped significantly over the last several years mainly due to the scaling up of the industry in Europe and better management of project development risk.
CVOW represents a unique opportunity to translate these lessons learned into cost-savings for ratepayers, potential opportunities for the Commonwealth’s universities and, ultimately, a full-scale buildout of Virginia’s offshore wind resources. Full buildout will grow the Commonwealth’s economy and diversify its portfolio of electricity generation sources.
The pressure to make the turbines happen isn't just coming from the Legislature — it's also coming from the Democratic governor, Ralph Northam. A reworked energy master plan published by his administration's energy officials this month calls for the state to install 2 GW of offshore wind over a decade.
Northam cited Virginia’s location and deep expertise in shipbuilding and other trades as reasons why it could also support manufacturing. He added that 14,000 jobs could ultimately support the industry in Virginia. Northam said Virginia “has a clear opportunity to act as a change agent in driving the development of U.S. offshore wind.”
Hampton Roads businesses and our economy will benefit tremendously from offshore wind. Thousands of jobs will be created in industries like manufacturing, construction, maintenance and logistics. Additionally, offshore wind will inject millions of dollars in local communities that will help create healthier, more prosperous communities. This can be a significant step forward for our region.
Governor Northam announced Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority appointments, including new members: Hayes Framme of Ørsted, Laura McKay of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program and Mark Mitchell of Dominion Energy. Governor Northam also reappointed Phil Green of Green Powered Technology LLC.
Dominion Energy has set course for a massive new expansion of solar and wind energy. Under the provisions of the Grid Transformation and Security Act, which Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law in March, we have committed to putting 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind generation — enough to power 750,000 homes — under development or in operation by the beginning of 2022, making Virginia a national leader in green energy.
“The announcement today represents a significant step toward harnessing Virginia’s offshore wind energy resource and the many important economic benefits that this industry will bring to our Commonwealth,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “This offshore wind demonstration project will provide critical information to stakeholders and will position Virginia as a leader as we work to attract job opportunities in the offshore wind supply chain and service industries.”
Dominion Energy Virginia is about to map uncharted waters with a $300 million project to research the use of wind power off Virginia’s Atlantic coast to generate electricity for millions of homes and businesses in the state. “This is an important first step we know will lead us on a much longer journey,” Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II said in a ceremony at the Nauticus museum Friday.
“Our [consultant] selection will assist Virginia in its aggressive pursuit of offshore wind supply chain and service industry business interests,” said John Warren, director of Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, in a statement Monday. “We are excited to work with a team of experts with global experience on this long-term economic development opportunity.”
“Virginia has great assets,” [Business Network for Offshore Wind executive director Liz] Burdock said, adding that she could envision the Hampton Roads area evolving into a hub for fabricating steel turbine foundations. Her nonprofit, founded in 2012, focuses on beefing up the U.S. supply chain up and down the East Coast.
Orsted’s Thomas Brostrom: “Virginia has the chance to leverage its port assets, high-quality workforce and favorable business climate to become a major hub for the supply chain. However, this must be coupled with strong public policy signals from state and local leaders that this industry is valued.”
Dominion Energy is reviving plans for an offshore wind energy project 27 miles east of Virginia Beach in a move it hopes will set the stage to make the Hampton Roads region a national leader in a still-developing technology. The company hopes to have two wind turbines — “taller than the Washington Monument” as CEO chief executive Tom Farrell put it — online by the end of 2020.