Industries Energy/Green

Dominion announces plans for offshore wind energy research project

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Dominion Energy Virginia announced Monday it has signed an agreement with a Danish company to build two offshore wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach.

Dominion and DONG Energy of Denmark, an offshore wind development company, have reached an agreement and strategic partnership to build the two 6-megawatt turbines as part of a research project.

Engineering and development work will begin immediately, Dominion said Monday. Dominion will remain the sole owner of the project.

Monday’s announcement revives the project, whose future was murky. Previously known as the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP), the project was dropped 14 months ago from a Department of Energy (DOE) program that would have contributed $40 million. The federal agency decided other offshore wind research projects in the U.S. were more likely to meet the 2020 construction deadline.

Dominion said Monday that the renamed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project is targeted for completion that same year. DONG Energy has a target installation date of 2020, although the construction depends on factors such as weather and the migration patterns of protected species.

Along with clean energy, it will provide Dominion Energy with valuable experience in managing offshore wind resources.

"Virginia is now positioned to be a leader in developing more renewable energy thanks to the commonwealth's committed leadership and DONG's unrivaled expertise in building offshore wind farms," Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion Energy's chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. "While we have faced many technological challenges and even more doubters as we advanced this project, we have been steadfast in our commitment to our customers and the communities we serve."

This phase one development of two wind turbines will be built approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach on a 2,135-acre site leased by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

"This project will provide us vital experience in constructing an offshore wind project in the United States and serve as a stepping stone to a larger commercial-scale partnership between our companies in the future,” said Samuel Leupold, executive vice president and CEO of wind power at DONG Energy. “We see the tremendous potential in the mid-Atlantic for emission-free, renewable wind generation and we are excited to help the commonwealth in reaping the benefits of wind power."

The project also is key to long-term commercial wind development. It will provide operational, weather and environmental experience needed for large-scale development in the adjacent 112,800-acre site leased by Dominion Energy from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Full deployment could generate up to 2,000 megawatts of energy – enough to power half a million homes.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding that gives DONG Energy exclusive rights to discuss a strategic partnership with Dominion Energy about developing the commercial site based on successful deployment of the initial test turbines.

DONG Energy, based in Denmark with North American headquarters in Boston, owns 22 offshore wind farms in Europe and Asia. DONG Energy’s North American headquarters is in Boston. The company is working on wind projects off the coast of Massachusetts and New Jersey, known as Bay State Wind and Ocean Wind.

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