Liz Burdock, CEO & President, Business Network for Offshore Wind
As the offshore wind energy marketplace develops on the U.S. East Coast, we are starting to see the regional supply chain for offshore wind farms come together, and one important development is the forming of regional working relationships across state lines. This is happening in New England with Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, in the New York-New Jersey area, and further south with Virginia and North Carolina.
Based on Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order Number 43, released on September 16, the Commonwealth is ready to take a leadership role on offshore wind energy in this area. The order calls for 2500 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy by 2026, which relies heavily on the development and build out of the Commercial Lease Area acquired by Dominion Energy.
Ørsted is under contract to build the 12MW project called Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) in the Research Lease Area acquired by the Commonwealth. This project could start producing clean power in 2020 , marking the first U.S. offshore wind farm to be deployed in federal waters and could act as a gateway project to offshore wind farms in Virginia and the Carolinas.
In addition to these projects, I believe that Virginia has the right mix of infrastructure, political support and supply chain potential to move the offshore wind marketplace forward:
- Growing support from the governor and legislature, which adopted a law last year declaring up to 5,000 megawatts of wind power to be “in the public interest.”
- Confirmation that the Hampton Roads region has the shipping channels, navigational flexibility, port infrastructure and maritime workforce to support the industry.
- The state seeking bids from contractors poised to attract an offshore wind supply chain and service industry.
The Commonwealth’s business community is getting on board because it understands that adding offshore wind to Virginia’s mix would diversify an economy that has traditionally been tied heavily to the federal government with military contracts. I thought that Harrison Godfrey, executive director of the Virginia Advanced Energy Economy, summed up the state’s potential very well: “The state and region that decides to lead on offshore wind will enjoy the gains of providing the supply chain and jobs,” he said. One of his fears is that the state will move too slowly and lose out on a growth opportunity for which it is well suited. “The race is on,” Godfrey said, “and to the victor go the spoils.”
To explore the Commonwealth’s role in the offshore wind marketplace, my organization, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and Dominion Energy are co-organizing a one-and-a-half day event titled ‘Sea to Land’ in Norfolk, Virginia on September 19-20. This conference will examine the national challenge of ports and logistics for the growing offshore wind sector; include a key note speech from Governor Ralph Northam; and take a deeper look at the development of the offshore wind supply chain, ports and vessels in the Commonwealth. Click here [LINK] to learn more about this unique event and register for the conference.