“This is an opportunity to become a global leader in offshore wind,” Governor McAuliffe added after announcing Virginia as the first state in the U.S. to secure a wind power research lease issued by the U.S. Bureau of Energy Management.
What does this mean for Virginia? Taking the lead in wind energy research, Virginia is the first of the 50 states to secure a lease to build a wind energy pilot project in federal waters. Among Massachusetts and Rhode Island (the only other two states to experiment with offshore wind energy) Virginia is the first and only permitted by the U.S. Bureau of Energy Management to measure the wind’s potential as an energy source from federal waters.
Research is to be conducted at the continental shelf and approximately 24 nautical miles from the shore of Virginia Beach. The research conducted just miles from our local beaches will collect data in several fields. As pertaining to offshore wind turbines, data collected will determine the efficiency and consistency of offshore wind energy in this area, help detect potential repercussions on our local ecosystem, and measure any effect to the local economy (create jobs!?). The pilot project will also collect weather data As a partner of the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project, Dominion Virginia Power is responsible for bringing offshore wind power research to Virginia.
Rights to the Wind Energy Area were auctioned by Virginia in 2013 and Dominion Virginia Power won the sub-lease bid at the cost of $1.6 million. The Wind Energy Area is 113,000 acres of federal waters, and Dominion has until 2018 to develop a plan for their full-scale commercial wind farm. The pilot project will get started with the construction of two 500 feet tall test turbines. Support facilities and cabling to the shore will accompany the turbines in an effort to explore the potential for offshore wind energy. Data collected from these test turbines will assist Dominion in determining the areas potential to further develop a large-scale commercial wind farm. The two 6-megawatt turbines could power up to 3,000 homes by 2017. Success with the first two test turbines could lead to a 200 turbine commercial wind find warm that could power up to 700,000 homes.
Dietrich, Tamara. “Virginia gets country’s first wind energy research lease in federal waters.” Daily Press. Daily Press, 25 March.
2015. Web. 25 March 2015. <http://www.dailypress.com/news/science/dp-nws-wind-turbines-governor-20150325-story.html>
Applegate, Aaron. “Va. secures lease for 2 wind turbines off Va. Beach.”PilotOnline.com” The Virginian-Pilot, 25 March.
2015. 25 March 2015. <HamptonRoads.com>