The U.S. Department of Energy announced an award Wednesday of up to $ 4 million to Dominion Virginia Power to further develop offshore wind technology. The award will assist the company in completing the engineering, design and permitting for an offshore wind project off the coast of Virginia Beach.
In its DOE application, Dominion proposed designing, developing and demonstrating a 12-megawatt offshore wind facility consisting of two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines. The primary location for the demonstration project is in federal waters about 22 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, although the ultimate site will depend on detailed investigations. Twelve megawatts would provide enough electricity for 3,000 homes at peak demand.
“Winds off the coast of Virginia hold great potential for electricity generation,“ Mary C. Doswell, senior vice president-Alternative Energy Solutions at Dominion, said in a statement. “The challenge will be to harness this energy and bring it to our customers at reasonable cost … We have the right team in place to begin this work with the goal of being chosen ultimately to build the demonstration facility.“
Others on the Dominion team include:
• Alstom Power Inc., a wind turbine manufacturer and major supplier of equipment and services to the global power generation market;
• KBR, a global engineering, construction, and services firm with experience in offshore wind;
• the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy;
• the National Renewable Energy Laboratory;
• the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute, representing the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium;
• And Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Dominion was one of seven projects selected to receive $4 million each in federal matching funds, with the other projects located in Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Texas. The DOE will select up to three of the projects to move forward with final design, permitting, and ultimate construction as U.S. demonstration projects. Each will receive up to an additional $47 million over four years, subject to Congressional appropriations. The projects must be in operation by the end of 2017.
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) called the development “a positive step forward for the commonwealth. Developing our offshore energy resources will help create domestic manufacturing jobs and strengthen Virginia’s economy,” he said in a statement.
In March, Dominion told the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) that it is interested in obtaining leases off the Virginia coast in an area that has the potential to generate approximately 1,500-2,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind turbines, or enough electricity for 500,000 homes at peak demand. In November, BOEM announced that it would place about 113,000 acres off the Virginia coast up for auction as a single lease next year.
In its announcement yesterday, the DOE noted that offshore wind represents a large, untapped power source for the U.S, offering more than 4,000 gigawatts of clean, domestic electricity potential, four times the nation’s current total generation capacity. According to a new report commissioned by the Energy Department, a U.S. offshore wind industry could support up to 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation and supply chain jobs across the country and drive more than $70 billion in annual investments by 2030.
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