New Report Shows Virginia’s Leaders Have the Opportunity to Reap Significant Economic, Energy Benefits from Urgent Action to Develop Offshore Wind

NORFOLK, VA, September 19, 2018 – A new report released today by BVG Associates shows that Virginia’s key decision makers can help position the Commonwealth as a national leader in the growing U.S. 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 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind – enough to power 500,000 homes – by 2028. The report comes on the heels of recent legislation setting a statewide 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 3 million tons of carbon pollution each year, the equivalent of removing 650,000 cars from the road.

“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,” said Eileen Woll, the director of the Virginia Sierra Club’s offshore energy program. “The ‘Vision for Virginia Offshore Wind’ 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 U.S. offshore wind industry. The report recommends Virginia’s key decisionmakers to quickly develop a “master plan” 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.

“This report breaks new ground showing the linkage between supply chain investments on shore and project development offshore,” said George Hagerman, Senior Project Scientist at Old Dominion University’s Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography. “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 4GW of market pull to the estimated 8GW farther north, thereby securing the financial return on early manufacturing investments in Hampton Roads.”

Andy Geissbuehler, Advisory Director of BVGA LLC added, “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. We are proud and excited to support Virginia to make the most of these opportunities.”

Many states on the Atlantic seaboard have signaled 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.

“The Port of Virginia is located in a geographically-advantageous position to become the load-center for the U.S. East Coast’s off-shore wind industry,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “The region offers several assets. The port is served by deep-water 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 ship-building and repair industry and ready workforce. Growth of the offshore wind energy sector could create jobs and investment, and drive economic growth in Virginia. We look forward to working with the various stakeholders to bring the offshore wind industry to Virginia.”

Stephanie McClellan, Ph.D., Director of the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative on Offshore Wind added, “The costs of offshore wind have come down dramatically. There’s enough wind off America’s coastlines to generate four times the amount of electricity currently generated nationwide. Regional leaders recognize that offshore wind represents a significant economic development opportunity. Compared to Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, Virginia trails other states in developing offshore wind. But it’s clear that with the right decisions and strong leadership, Virginia has the tools to quickly become a national leader in offshore wind.”

The American wind industry currently supports over 100,000 well-paying jobs nationwide, including 25,000 jobs in manufacturing. If Virginia were to create a master plan to develop offshore wind, it would provide significant opportunities for Virginia manufacturers and businesses that can support the offshore wind supply chain. Virginia has the resources and potential to become a distribution hub and supplier of offshore wind components as well as adjacent products and services like shipbuilding that can be sold to other East Coast markets.

“Virginia businesses and our economy would benefit tremendously from offshore wind,” said Bryan K. Stephens, the President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber. “Thousands of jobs can be created in industries like manufacturing, construction, maintenance and logistics if we take definitive action to leverage this immense opportunity. Additionally, offshore wind can inject millions of dollars in local communities that will help create healthier, more prosperous communities. This can be a significant step forward for Virginia.”

Fred Zalcman, Head of Government Affairs, North America for Ørsted added, “The offshore wind industry in the United States is set to grow significantly in the coming decade and Virginia has the potential to play an important role. Virginia has an abundant wind resource, as well as the basic infrastructure that could make it a key market to develop going forward.”

Last spring, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) issued a request for proposal to find a strategic partner to help identify potential approaches to develop Virginia’s offshore wind supply chain. This past August, DMME chose BVG to assist in its pursuit of identifying ways to unlock Virginia’s offshore wind potential.

“There is significant interest in developing offshore wind in Virginia,” said John Warren, Director of Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. “This report is an important step in recognizing the path to developing offshore wind in the Commonwealth and the benefits it can unlock. This administration is committed to developing more renewable energy and sees offshores wind as important part of Virginia’s energy future.”

Governor Ralph Northam will join Virginia businesses leaders, elected officials, and clean energy advocates on September 21st at the Virginia Offshore Wind Executive Summit where speakers and participants will discuss the significant opportunity for offshore wind development in Virginia.