Home Climate change Major Clean Energy Milestone: Virginia’s First Offshore Wind Installed

Major Clean Energy Milestone: Virginia’s First Offshore Wind Installed

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by A Siegel

A bit earlier this morning, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation on offshore wind and then headed out to see the first two offshore wind turbines installed in Federal waters.

This 12-megawatt (two 6-megawatt turbines) Dominion Energy demonstration project is now entering a testing phase, with final connection to the grid to occur before the end of the summer. These 12 MW are the leading edge for a 2.6-gigawatt (e.g., 2,600 MWs) Dominion offshore wind farm, with likely double that amount (5.2GW) to be actively powering Virginia homes before the end of the decade.

This is a major milestone — a physical, tangible example of the Commonwealth moving away from fossil-foolish electricity generation and towards cleaner electrons, produced in ways that will foster job creation and otherwise boost the economy while reducing pollution.

Orsted-DE CVOW BROLL from Dominion Energy on Vimeo.

Globally, offshore wind has undergone a massive transformation over the past few years, from a seemingly high-cost option requiring expensive markets or significant subsidies (or mandates) for deployment to an increasingly cost-competitive option. That’s the case, even without considering offshore wind’s multiplicative benefit streams – from lowered pollution to job creation to (in many circumstances) boosted marine life/fisheries to reducing total electricity system costs by flattening electricity cost curves (by shaving off peak hours).

  • Virginia’s coasts have extensive offshore wind resources –  potentially enough to power the entire Commonwealth economy (even as it doesn’t make sense to put all the energy system “eggs in one basket”).
  • The Tidewater region has the best resources (harbors, maritime industries, skilled workforces, transportation) to support an offshore wind industry along the East Coast. With tens of GWs already being built or en route to construction from Maine down to North Carolina, a strong Virginia offshore wind program could enable massive job growth supporting projects across the region.
  • Offshore wind’s plunging prices offer a pathway — with increasing deployment driving lowered prices — for having cleaner and lower cost electrons with every passing year.

These are, by the way, good reasons why the Virginia Clean Energy Act (VCEA) made offshore wind a centerpiece of the plan to transform the Commonwealth’s electricity system away from fossil-fuel generation to clean electrons.

Today, with the Governor signing the legislation and touring the first wind turbines in Federal waters, Virginia is marking a significant milestone to that clean energy future. And that’s something to celebrate, even as we still have a lot more to do.