U.S. approves Va. utility’s plan to build 2 test turbines 

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management yesterday announced that it has issued its first-ever research lease for offshore wind, clearing the way for the state of Virginia to install two test turbines about 25 miles off its shore.

The 30-year lease will help Dominion Resources Inc. gauge wind resources in an adjacent federal offshore wind lease that it purchased in 2013 for $1.6 million in the nation’s second-ever competitive auction (E&ENews PM, Sept. 4, 2013).

“The data collected under this research lease will help us understand the wind potential, weather and other conditions relevant to standing up wind power generation offshore Virginia,” said BOEM Director Abigail Hopper in a statement. “This data will be valuable not only to BOEM and [Virginia], but also to other government agencies, the offshore renewable energy industry, universities, environmental organizations and others.”

Data from the project will be made publicly available, BOEM said.

The Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP) would be constructed, owned and operated by Dominion, but the research lease would be held by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The turbines would be built by French manufacturer Alstom SA.

The grid-connected project would test “twisted jacket” turbine foundations that offer the strength of traditional foundations but use substantially less steel.

The project was one of three selected by the Energy Department last May to receive up to $47 million each over the next four years “to deploy innovative, grid-connected systems in federal and state waters by 2017” and help the nascent industry get off the ground.

“Dominion’s project will demonstrate installation, operation and maintenance methods for wind turbines located far from shore,” DOE said last May. “Additionally, the Dominion project will install and test a hurricane-resilient design to ensure that offshore wind facilities placed in hurricane-prone U.S. waters are reliable, safe, and cost-effective.”