Through a new agreement and strategic partnership with DONG Energy, Dominion Energy Virginia is moving forward on an offshore wind project in a federal lease area off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. Dominion has signed a deal with DONG Energy to build two 6 MW turbines for the newly named Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, of which Dominion Energy remains the sole owner.
DONG Energy expects to immediately begin engineering and development work in order to support the targeted installation by the end of 2020. The timing for construction depends on many factors, such as weather and protected species migration patterns, notes Dominion.
This phase-one development will be built approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach on a 2,135-acre site leased by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Dominion says it will provide critical operational, weather and environmental experience needed for large-scale development in the adjacent 112,800-acre site leased by Dominion Energy from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Full deployment could generate up to 2 GW of energy – enough to power half a million homes.
The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding giving DONG Energy exclusive rights to discuss a strategic partnership with Dominion Energy about developing the commercial site (based on the successful deployment of the initial test turbines). DONG Energy, which is based in Denmark and has North American headquarters in Boston, owns 22 offshore wind farms in Europe and Asia.
The project continues what previously was called the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Assessment Project. Dominion Energy began work on the project in 2011 as part of a U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop and test new wind technologies that could lower costs and withstand hurricanes. During that time, key achievements were made to advance the project, including the Approval of the Research Activities Plan by BOEM and environmental studies, which included avian and bat surveys, as well as assessments of ocean currents, archeological conditions and whale migration patterns.
“Virginia is now positioned to be a leader in developing more renewable energy, thanks to the commonwealth’s committed leadership and DONG’s unrivaled expertise in building offshore wind farms,” comments Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion Energy’s chairman, president and CEO. “While we have faced many technological challenges and even more doubters as we advanced this project, we have been steadfast in our commitment to our customers and the communities we serve.”
According to the energy company, the project would be only the second offshore wind project in the nation (behind the Block Island Wind Farm) and the first owned by an electric utility company.
“Today marks the first step in what I expect to be the deployment of hundreds of wind turbines off Virginia’s coast that will further diversify our energy production portfolio, create thousands of jobs and reduce carbon emissions in the commonwealth,” says Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va. “Hampton Roads has the ideal port assets and talented workforce to attract and house the offshore wind business supply chain to support not only Virginia’s commercial wind area but also wind farms under development in Massachusetts, New York and Maryland. Today’s announcement advances our efforts to build a new Virginia economy that is cleaner, stronger and more diverse.”