Siemens Gamesa to build first U.S. offshore wind blade factory in Portsmouth
Spanish company to invest $200M, create 310 jobs
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy S.A., a Spanish wind turbine company, will invest $200 million to build the first U.S. offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in Portsmouth, creating 310 jobs, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday from the Port of Virginia’s Portsmouth Marine Terminal.
Siemens Gamesa is a partner in Dominion Energy’s 2.6-gigawatt, $7.8 billion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project. Expected to be the nation’s largest offshore wind farm when completed in 2026, the project will see about 180 wind turbines erected in federal waters 27 miles off the Virginia Beach coast, with construction beginning in 2024. At its peak, the wind farm is expected to generate enough energy to power 660,000 homes.
Siemens Gamesa plans to invest more than $80 million of the project’s estimated $200 million budget to erect buildings and equipment at an 80-acre site it will lease at Portsmouth Marine Terminal. When completed, the facility will be capable of producing blades for 100 turbines per year, a company executive said.
About 50 of the 310 jobs being created by the turbine blade manufacturing operation will be service jobs to support the CVOW wind farm. Dominion is leasing 72 acres at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to use as a staging and preassembly area for the project’s massive foundations and turbines.
The facility will be the first offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in the United States.
“Virginians want renewable energy, our employers want it and Virginia is delivering it,” Northam said. “The commonwealth is joining these leading companies to create the most important clean energy partnership in the United States. This is good news for energy customers, the union workers who will bring this project to life and our business partners. Make no mistake: Virginia is building a new industry in renewable energy, with more new jobs to follow, and that’s good news for our country.”
The General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) into law in 2020, requiring Dominion to generate all electricity produced for consumption in Virginia from renewable energy sources with zero carbon emissions by 2045.
Officials gathered at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal for Monday’s announcement included U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, who spoke about how Virginia’s offshore wind project lines up with President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the United States by 2030. She also noted the economic impact of shifting to clean energy.
“[Biden] sees the opportunity that is presented in this clean energy economy globally,” she said. “It is [a] $23 trillion market. … [and] America is going to get a big chunk of that. We’re not going to stand by and watch our economic competitors claim that market and that means manufacturing and that means generating clean energy and that means all kinds of energy, whether it’s nuclear or wind or solar or geothermal or hydropower.”
Grandholm said the announcement Monday was symbolic for the entire country. It’s also monumental for Hampton Roads’ and Virginia’s economy.
“People are talking about long-term effects but Americans tend to think about long-term effects in one year, five years, 10 years; we’re talking about decades if not generations, generational changes for the entire area, the entire commonwealth,” said Brian Ball, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade.
He and Northam said it’s a major step in diversifying the state’s economy.
“We have always been dependent on the military and government contracting and we always will be, but something we recognized four years ago is we really needed to diversify our economy,” Northam said. “We did that by bringing in companies like Amazon, Micron, Microsoft, Facebook. … Dominion Energy is doing that by bringing in Siemens Gamesa.”
Siemens Gamesa and the project’s boosters also see it as a major step in creating a supply chain hub in Hampton Roads for other wind farm projects up and down the East Coast.
“We are hopeful that as states, including Virginia, commit to offshore wind, this facility will continue to be able to supply those projects that are located in other states,” said Steve Dayney, Siemens Gamesa’s head of Offshore North America. “What is important is that there is long-term certainty for investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. … We need that long-term certainty that the demand for the product is going to be there.That’s critically important.”
Dayney said Siemens Gamesa chose Portsmouth for the site because there’s deepwater access, no overhead obstructions, plenty of room to build and the infrastructure is largely in place, compared with other locations.
Dominion Energy Chair, President and CEO Robert M. Blue said Dominion chose Siemens Gamesa as a partner in the project because the company built the Dominion offshore wind project’s first two pilot wind turbines, which went online in 2020, and “they’re a leader in this industry.”
Having the manufacturing facility will help speed development of Dominion’s planned 180-turbine wind farm, Blue said, but he added that starting a new supply chain also takes time and investment.
“When you’re starting a new supply chain, obviously there’s time associated with building a new factory, but creating jobs here, the economic activity here is going to pay great dividends for Hampton Roads and for Virginia,” he said. “And this is an industry that’s just starting in this country, so getting early pieces of the supply chain here increases the chances that Virginia will get more of the supply chain, which will be more jobs, and then ultimately, as we’ve all learned recently, having a local supply chain can be a real advantage.”