The project could meet ambitious renewable energy goals set last week by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) aiming to secure 100 percent of the state’s electricity production from carbon-free sources by 2050.
If approved, the Dominion Energy offshore wind project would be located in the 112,800 acres Dominion Energy currently leases from the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Ocean survey work is expected to begin in 2020 and a construction and operations plan will be submitted to BOEM in 2022.
“We applaud Governor Northam's ambitious goal of 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2026 and Dominion Energy’s announcement of a large-scale project that’s up to the challenge” said Laura Smith Morton, Senior Director, Offshore Wind, AWEA. “Offshore wind will strengthen Virginia’s economy with many highly-skilled careers and new investments in the shipbuilding, port and coastal infrastructure needed to deploy and maintain this new American energy source.”
Dominion Energy recently began construction in June on the 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project, which is the first fully permitted wind project in U.S. federal waters. Dominion Energy plans to move forward with its commercial offshore wind project in three phases, each totalling 880 MW. The project’s first phase is expected to begin producing electricity by 2024. Additional phases will come online in 2025 and 2026, totaling more than 2,600 MW of energy generating capacity, enough to power 650,000 homes.
Offshore wind is still a young industry in the US, but that’s rapidly changing. America’s first offshore wind farm, the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm of the coast of Rhode Island, came online in 2016. Dominion Energy’s CVOW is the second US offshore wind project to begin construction. In total, there are currently more than 26,000 MW of offshore wind capacity in various stages of development off the East Coast and in the Great Lakes, with additional potential off the East and West Coasts.
According to a study by the New York-based Workforce Development Institute, building an offshore wind farm requires a diverse technical workforce spanning an estimated 74 occupations including electricians, welders, ironworkers, pipefitters, pile drivers, engineers, scientists, and vessel operators. Another study by the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind found building 18.6 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 will create a nearly $70 billion opportunity of U.S. supply chain businesses.