The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently initiated a Call for Information and Nominations to determine industry interest in commercial wind energy leases in federal waters off Virginia’s coast. This announcement is a significant milestone advancing Virginia’s offshore wind industry and moving the Commonwealth closer to claiming the title, “Energy Capital of the East Coast.”
Industry participants will have 45 days to respond to the Call, after which BOEM will determine whether the leasing process will be competitive or not. The Call Area was determined by the Virginia Renewable Energy Task Force in an effort to balance offshore wind development with protection of the environment and shipping interests. BOEM recently completed an environmental assessment of the area and determined that there would be “no significant impacts” in issuing these leases.
Virginia has already made significant strides in developing its offshore wind energy assets. The Commonwealth’s ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds and shallow waters that allow for the easy installation of turbines has attracted a number of players in the global supply chain.
Last October, Virginia’s Northampton County was selected as the site for Poseidon Atlantic, the first comprehensive testing and certification facility for both offshore and land-based wind turbines in the U.S. Poseidon Atlantic recently installed its first Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) monitoring position in Northampton County. The LIDAR system is about the size of an air conditioner and uses laser technology to measure wind speed, direction, frequency and strength. This project will be uniquely able to test and certify the entire wind turbine (as opposed to testing component parts).
In addition, Gamesa Technology Corp. and Newport News Shipbuilding, a unit of Huntington Ingalls Industries, have launched the Gamesa Offshore Wind Technology Center in Chesapeake, Va. The center has made significant strides in developing an offshore testing facility in the Chesapeake Bay, off the Eastern Shore. The test site has been identified and submarine testing of the ocean floor has begun. The test site is expected to be complete in late 2012 to early 2013.
To learn more about Virginia’s energy assets and why more than 380 energy companies have established operations in the Commonwealth, click here.