New report says Virginia could be a leader in coming offshore wind boom

A new report says Virginia’s port infrastructure, experienced maritime workforce and geographical advantages make it an ideal candidate for becoming a hub for the East Coast offshore wind supply chain.

The report, by BVG Associates and commissioned by Virginia’s Sierra Club chapter, says the window for action won’t be open forever, however.

“A number of states — New York in particular — have already developed offshore wind master plans,” the executive summary says. “Virginia has great potential and many natural advantages to attract this investment, but must act now to be a leader in offshore wind.”  Rhode Island’s Block Island project is the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm, though other Atlantic states — Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Maryland — have announced plans to pursue their own, the report says.

Offshore wind offers higher and more consistent wind speeds than onshore wind and can be installed at a scale equivalent to nuclear power stations close to load centers, the report notes. Dominion Energy, the state’s largest utility, is pursuing a pilot program — two six-megawatt test turbines 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach — to gather data to inform a larger project that could total 2,000 megawatts.

BVG, a London-based renewable energy consulting firm, was also hired in July by the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to advise the state on how to become a major center for offshore wind.