Virginia has an opportunity to reap significant energy and economic benefits from urgent action to develop offshore wind.
A report released by BVG Associates shows that Virginia’s decisionmakers can help position the Commonwealth as a national leader in the growing US offshore wind industry during the next decade.
The Vision for Virginia Offshore Wind report points to the Commonwealth’s unique infrastructure and geographical advantages as keys to developing 2 GW of offshore wind by 2028. The report comes on the heels of recent legislation setting a state-wide goal of building 5 GW of renewable energy by 2028.
The report presents a ‘realistic and immediate opportunity’ for Virginia to establish itself as a hub for the entire East Coast offshore wind supply chain. By developing 2 GW of offshore wind during the next decade, Virginia can reduce its reliance on out-of-state electricity by 30%, create thousands of local jobs, and build healthier and safer communities across the state by eliminating 3M tonnes of carbon pollution each year.
Sierra Club Virginia director of offshore wind Eileen Woll said, “Virginia’s leaders have an immediate opportunity to strengthen the Virginia economy for working families and create safer, healthier communities by tapping into our vast offshore wind resource.
“The report should remind every Virginia leader that investing in offshore wind will pay off for Virginia’s economy by creating well-paying jobs and lowering the cost of electricity for homeowners and businesses. We have a massive opportunity to build a clean, renewable source of domestic energy that will help to secure a better, safer future for Virginia families. The time to act is now.”
The report underscores the urgency in which Virginia’s leaders must act in order to establish Virginia as a hub for the offshore wind industry. The report recommends Virginia’s key decisionmakers to quickly develop a masterplan that creates specific milestones and timelines for the Virginia offshore wind industry if the state is to achieve the realistic goal of developing 2 GW of offshore wind by 2028.
Old Dominion University’s Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography senior project scientist George Hagerman said, “This report breaks new ground showing the linkage between supply chain investments on shore and project development offshore.
“Virginia can establish Hampton Roads as a production hub for supplying jacket foundations and substation platforms to the first wave of offshore wind projects farther north. As these new facilities mature and become more efficient, they pave the way for a second wave of lower-cost projects off Virginia and Kitty Hawk, adding about 4 GW of market pull to the estimated 8 GW farther north, thereby securing the financial return on early manufacturing investments in Hampton Roads.”
BVGA LLC advisory director Andy Geissbuehler said, “Our analysis demonstrates that Virginia offers significant advantages and a convincing strategic fit with the offshore wind industry. Those advantages will enable Virginian’s to generate long-term economic growth from the rapidly developing offshore wind industry along the East Coast, as well as the considerable benefits of developing its own offshore wind projects.”
Many states on the Atlantic seaboard have signalled interest in developing offshore wind. However, Virginia’s skilled workforce, proximity to market, transportation resources, and coastal and grid infrastructure provide the Commonwealth unique competitive advantages that few other states have, BVGA’s report said.
Virginia Port Authority chief executive John Reinhart said, “The Port of Virginia is located in a geographically-advantageous position to become the load-centre for the US East Coast’s offshore wind industry.
“The region offers several assets. The port is served by deepwater with no overhead obstructions, we have two multi-use terminals that link to the world’s major ports and we are continually working to diversify our cargo mix. In addition, the region is home to an experienced shipbuilding and repair industry and ready workforce. Growth of the offshore wind energy sector could create jobs and investment and drive economic growth in Virginia.”
Governor Ralph Northam will join Virginia businesses leaders, elected officials, and clean energy advocates on 21 September at the Virginia Offshore Wind Executive Summit where speakers and participants will discuss the significant opportunity for offshore wind development in Virginia.