The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) says it has taken another important step toward issuing a wind energy research lease to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), after finding there is no competitive interest in the area where the state agency proposes to conduct activities. This would be the second such lease that BOEM is considering for DMME, which previously proposed installing meteorological facilities within Virginia's Wind Energy Area (WEA).
Under its second request, DMME proposes to design, develop and demonstrate a grid-connected, 12 MW offshore wind test facility on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off the coast of Virginia. BOEM says data obtained under this lease will be made publicly available and inform the future production of renewable energy within Virginia's WEA.
"The type of data that would be collected under this research lease is especially important to understanding the wind potential, weather and other conditions relevant to standing up wind power generation offshore Virginia," comments BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau.
In December 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced funding awards for seven offshore demonstration projects around the nation. One of the awards was given to Dominion Resources Inc., which partnered with DMME and others to establish the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project. This project proposes to build the wind test facility on the OCS, adjacent to the BOEM-designated WEA offshore Virginia. BOEM notes it continues to work collaboratively with the DOE in reviewing these projects.
Before the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project can install any facilities on the OCS, it must obtain BOEM approval. Therefore, DMME submitted an unsolicited nomination to BOEM on Feb. 13 for a proposal to install and operate two 6 MW turbines, associated cabling to shore, and ancillary metocean facilities (e.g., meteorological buoys).
BOEM published a notice to obtain public input and says none of the five received comments expressed competitive interest. Accordingly, BOEM says it will proceed with the leasing process on a non-competitive basis. The decision clears the way for DMME to submit a plan for renewable research activities for which BOEM will prepare a project-specific environmental review with opportunities for public input.