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The State of Virginia has awarded research grants totaling $860,000 to four local companies. According to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., the research will help give the state a competitive advantage and accelerate the development of offshore wind power and its associated industry supply chain.

The four proposals were selected for first-round awards under a request for proposals that generated 20 responses for projects requesting a total of $4.83 million in Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy funding and which offered a total of $5.38 million in matching funds.

The grant winners include the following:

- Alstom Power Inc., a global industrial manufacturer with its North American wind power business headquartered in the metro Richmond area, offered $10,000 in contributed cost share and was selected for a $40,000 award to develop advanced controls that adjust ocean wind turbines to respond in real time to incoming waves, reducing wear and tear on the rotor and generator.

- CoastalObsTechServices LLC of Virginia Beach offered $310,000 in cost share contributions and was selected for a $260,000 award to perform a 12-month wave measurement project and wave forecast modeling and validation to help mitigate the risk of construction delays and service vessel inaccessibility.

- Timmons Group, a Richmond-based engineering and technology firm, offered to contribute $345,000 in cost share and was selected for a $250,000 award to develop a proof of concept for a commercial wide-area metocean and environmental monitoring program.

- Virginia Electric Power Co., dba Dominion Virginia Power, offered $2 million in cost share contribution and was selected for a $310,000 award to advance geotechnical studies, including deep borings, which are essential to early project engineering analysis.

In September 2013, Dominion won the commercial auction conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to develop wind power on just over 112,000 acres approximately 24 miles off Virginia’s coast. According to BOEM, the federally designated Virginia Wind Energy Area has the potential to support up to 2 GW of wind generation.

McAuliffe claims that the gradual slope of the Outer Continental Shelf off of Virginia, with relatively shallow water at offshore distances sufficient to minimize conflicts with commercial shipping and military training, and an excellent wind resource make the area ideal for wind power development. In addition, the governor says that Virginia is well positioned along the Atlantic coast to become the central hub to support wind power development planned in other states to the north and south.

Nonetheless, McAuliffe notes that much data still needs to be gathered, such as information on sub-sea geology, waves and currents, and marine and avian species, before commercial development can begin.

“The projects selected for award today will help to fill some of these gaps,” he says, later adding that the awards are “the latest examples of the commonwealth encouraging and supporting private sector investments in offshore wind development. There is more to come. We’re ready for business.”




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