The state of Virginia is seeking to accelerate commercial offshore wind development in its waters by surveying the ocean floor and conducting research into the wind, waves and wildlife off its coast. It hopes that by beginning to collect such data early - before commercial developers are granted permission to conduct their own surveys – it can support developers' plans.
The state’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) has issued a request for proposals for a geological survey of the seabed within the federally-designated Virginia Wind Energy Area. Eight companies have expressed an interest in developing offshore wind farms within the area.
DMME has also applied to the federal government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for two research leases along the edges of the development area.
The first application proposes installing meteorological masts, one on the north end of the area opened to commercial leasing earlier this year and one on the south end. The second application is a request to lease a third site for potential installation of a third met mast and up to six foundations that would be used to testing new offshore wind turbine technology.
Al Christopher, energy division within DMME, says the research would likely be funded through a public-private partnership.
DMME hopes early installation of met masts and a geological survey will speed up commercial development within the wind energy zone, by allowing wind resource and other data to be collected one to two years before commercial developers are able to commence their own site assessments. Commercial developers must first win a competitive auction for the rights to a potential project site and then negotiate a lease with BOEM.
Early installation of met masts and a geological survey will enable "our offshore wind resources, and the jobs associated with the offshore wind industry, to develop more quickly," Christopher told Windpower Offshore.
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