Getting a second wind
Port of Virginia gears up for emerging energy industry
- August 30, 2010
Besides incorporating APM Terminals into its fleet, the Port of Virginia is preparing for a major role in the emerging multibillion-dollar wind industry off the Atlantic Coast.
The port is a member of the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition, formed last year to help propel Virginia’s maritime and manufacturing industries into the center of offshore wind energy. Port Authority spokesman Joe Harris says the port is promoting itself as a loading and transportation center for the turbines used to develop and sustain wind farms. “We feel like we’re positioned to be a good distribution center for that cargo,” Harris says. The port’s facilities, as well as its rail access, make it a logical choice to handle such equipment, he adds. “There’s potential, but right now a lot of it is just discussion.”
Offshore wind farms would require a port close to deep water, as well as places to store equipment. “Hampton Roads just fills the bill,” says John M. Ryan, a lawyer with Vandeventer Black LLP, which represents the coalition and Virginia International Terminals. “It’s a natural.” He adds that leasing APM gives the port additional space to support wind energy. “It’s going to free up Portsmouth Marine Terminal, which has deep water and cranes and space to store equipment for wind energy.”
Ryan, whose firm recently launched an energy practice, believes that wind energy will be a major asset for Vandeventer Black’s clients, which include a broad spectrum in the maritime industry. Economic development studies estimate that wind energy could develop into an $80 billion industry for Hampton Roads over the next two decades, including about 10,000 new jobs related to manufacturing turbines and building and maintaining the offshore wind farms. “This is a project that’s going to span the next five to six years and probably longer,” Ryan says. “It’s likely that turbine manufacturing will center some facility here.”