PEOPLE CAN ARGUE about the details, now that Dominion Energy has started building Virginia's first offshore wind energy project off the coast of Virginia Beach. But no one should minimize the significance of this move toward a more sustainable future.
Yet there are still more questions than answers regarding which components will be made on U.S. soil, which companies will make them, and where. New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia are all vying for a central role in the offshore wind supply chain. “What are you seeing is a cluster emerging in the Northeast, and there will probably be a cluster emerging in the Mid-Atlantic,” said Thomas Brostrøm, president of North America for Orsted, the world’s leading offshore wind developer.
On May 28, a coalition of groups — ODU, the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the ReInvent Hampton Roads — will host a forum about the future of offshore wind, featuring a panel discussion with many of the leaders working to transform those dreams into a tangible reality.
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.
Offshore wind — and the ability to serve as a national-level power generation, distribution and logistical Atlantic coast hub for this market — is an opportunity that should not be missed. As we have done with port modernization and sea-level rise, ODU has the technical, logistical and academic expertise to leverage a group of public and private sector leaders to capture this potential.
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.
Governor Ralph Northam released a report providing a roadmap for Virginia to develop an offshore wind supply chain to serve emerging offshore wind projects along the East Coast. The report analyzed Virginia’s potential strategic role in the rapidly emerging US offshore wind industry. The recommendations include establishing a regional supply chain collaborative with neighboring states, creating a Virginia Office for Offshore Wind, soliciting anchor tenant suppliers, and expanding workforce development opportunities.
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.