January 20, 2010
Virginia shipyards back offshore wind initiative
Virginia shipyards are backing the newly formed Virginia Offshore Wind (VOW) Coalition.
"Our goal is to be the Emerald City of green energy on the East Coast," said Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms Jr., announcing the group's formation. "Promoting wind energy off Virginia Beach's coast is good for business and good for the environment."
Coalition members include BAE Systems Ship Repair, Colonna's Shipyard, and Earl Industries. Others include Apex Offshore Wind, AREVA, the City of Virginia Beach, Dominion Virginia Power, Earl Industries, Fugro Atlantic, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, Science Applications International Corporation, Seawind Renewable Energy Corporation, Weeks Marine and W. F. Magann. The coalition also includes organizations and individuals that endorse offshore wind in Virginia.
"Offshore wind can become an important and clean diversification of Virginia's power generation portfolio in the coming years," said Coalition Chairman Theo de Wolff, principal of Seawind Renewable Energy Corporation.
Coalition Vice Chairman Josh Prueher, president of Earl Industries, added, "The market opportunity for Virginia to become the East Coast hub for offshore wind manufacturing and logistics is approximately $80 billion and represents more than 10,000 new jobs for our state. We must act now to capture it."
The coalition has two goals:
To promote the development of offshore wind energy in Virginia
To promote Hampton Roads as the hub of manufacturing and supply for all offshore wind farms on the East Coast.
Last summer, Sessoms created the Mayor's Alternative Energy Task Force to study new, green energy sources for Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads and the state. Wind energy was identified as one likely source of alternative energy. Virginia has a solid wind resource off its coast, with the capacity for more than 3,000 megawatts of electricity a year-- enough to power more than 1 million homes, or roughly one-third of all homes in the state. Combined with a long, outer continental shelf and a robust transmission grid, this makes Virginia an ideal location for offshore wind farms.
Virginia is second only to California in using imported electrical power. Offshore wind will be part of the solution and will help diversify Virginia's energy sources, says the coalition. In addition, the Navy recently set an ambitious goal of having half of its power come from renewable sources by 2025. Hampton Roads is home to the largest concentration of Navy personnel in the country, and offshore wind can greatly help the military reach this goal.
Offshore wind-powered electricity has proven itself in Europe, where more than 25 projects have been successfully installed in the past 10 years. The Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium has researched the potential for offshore wind energy in Virginia. Their findings laid the groundwork for commercial development of offshore wind projects. As a result, two developers have submitted offshore lease applications to the Minerals Management Service of the U.S. Interior Department.
At least 10 offshore wind farm projects are under development in the United States, all of them outside Virginia. Yet. argues the coalition, no other state on the East Coast has the capacity for shipbuilding, steel fabrication and large-scale manufacturing of wind turbines and other equipment required for these massive projects. Virginia's deep-water ports and fabricating plants are well-positioned to service this growing industry.
Over the next 10 years, more than $15 billion will be invested in the offshore wind industry on the East Coast alone. The Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition is working closely with Virginia legislators to place Virginia in a position of leadership within the industry. The coalition is working on state legislation that will make Virginia competitive with other states pursuing offshore wind.
"This is an exciting time for Virginia and Hampton Roads," Sessoms said. "The opportunities are limitless. Virginia Beach is proud to join the rest of Hampton Roads as a key player in promoting offshore wind in Virginia and will continue to work with the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition to make it a reality."