Virginia is the first state in the nation to receive a wind energy research lease in federal waters from the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The lease will allow the state to explore how to build wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The data collected under this research lease will help us understand the wind potential, weather and other conditions relevant to standing up wind power generation offshore Virginia,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.
Virginia first applied for the research lease in 2013. Dominion Virginia Power will be the lease operator, which will last for 30 years. With the lease, Dominion will be able to construct and operate the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP), a grid-connected, offshore wind demonstration project consisting of two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines to be located approximately 24 nautical miles east of the Virginia Beach shoreline.
If successful, the project will show how to build and operate wind energy offshore as well as helping to identify inefficiencies and gaps in development of the energy source. BOEM has also established its own regulatory process which will govern the project and serve as the first use case.
The state expects once the project is complete and proven, that expanding commercial wind energy development will lead to new jobs in Virginia as well as more diverse energy mix. Virginia hopes to become the Mid-Atlantic wind energy hub.