Bigger Turbines, Bigger Opportunities for Virginia

Virginia Onshore Wind Energy Resources

This map shows some of the areas with wind resources suited for development with newer, taller turbines. Source: Adapted from NREL's 110 meter hub height wind speed map for areas achieving 35% capacity factors or greater (November, 2014).

This post is the ninth in a blog series discussing state-by-state highlights of wind energy throughout the South in the lead up to the WINDPOWER Expo in Orlando, FL, May 18 – 21. See the rest of the series here.

New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Virginia. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the Southeast. One modern wind turbine can now power the equivalent of about 600 homes a year!

New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind turbine development in Virginia with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Virginia. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 10,500 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Virginia. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Virginia (just 9.5% of Virginia’s onshore potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!

Based on the Jobs and Economic Development Index model, developed by NREL, developing one gigawatt worth of onshore wind energy capacity in Virginia could support approximately 4,100 direct, indirect and induced jobs during construction and 155 ongoing operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $9.2 million.

Virginia is currently home to at least six wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were up to 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Virginia. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs.

Virginia also has a robust offshore wind energy resource. In November 2012, Dominion (the state’s largest electric utility company) leased an area offshore that is large enough to develop up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power capacity.

The Southeastern Wind Coalition has published wind energy fact sheets on this state and others from around the Southeast. You can access those fact sheets here.

As the Southeast becomes a new frontier for wind energy, it is only fitting that the largest wind energy conference of the year will be in Orlando, Florida. Join us in Orlando, May 18-21, 2015 for the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition. Each year, the event draws thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors all looking to advance the wind industry. WINDPOWER features over 30 sessions ranging from market and policy analysis, to project performance and technical advancements in wind energy. It’s an excellent way to connect with subject matter experts–anyone interested in the wind industry should plan on attending. As a benefit to you for reading our blog, you can use this discount code to receive $50 off the full registration: SPKWP50.

We hope you can join us in Orlando to learn more about wind energy opportunities for Virginia and the entire Southeast! You can register here. 

Credit: American Wind Energy Association

 #windpower2015

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2 Comments

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Windspeeds are so remarkably higher offshore, that I think maps including offshore are essential for any policy or technical consideration.

http://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/100m_Wind/awstwspd100onoff3-1.jpg

I appreciate that this new data is meant to take a fresh look at the mountains.

But if we want to see RE work and pay off in reputation, I think we need to match technologies to conditions, and focus on the most productive areas.


Comment by Kimberly Davis on May 1, 2015 3:21 pm


Thanks Kimberly. Offshore winds are substantially higher than most of Virginia’s onshore resource. The new towers make onshore wind development in Virginia economically viable – and not just in the mountains (even though the mountains do tend to have better wind resources). However, offshore wind development is also more expensive than onshore wind development. Both onshore and offshore wind resources should be considered.


Comment by Simon Mahan on May 1, 2015 3:27 pm


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