Commission green lights state’s first offshore wind energy turbine prototype

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-27 17:38:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) voted unanimously to approve the proposed construction of a prototype of Virginia’s first offshore wind energy turbine.

Gov. Bob McDonnell made the announcement Tuesday.

The 479-foot-tall, five-megawatt wind turbine generator prototype will be installed three miles off Cape Charles.

The project is slated to be completed by the end of 2013. That’s ahead of other offshore wind energy projects planned in other parts of the country.

McDonnell said in a news release that the prototype is an important step in Virginia’s domestic energy resources.

“This step forward holds tremendous potential for jobs and for economic development here in the future,” said McDonnell.

The project now requires approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and review by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The proposal was submitted by Gamesa Energy USA, which is partnering with Huntingon Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding, to develop and test offshore wind technologies.

Officials said the expected design life of the prototype will be at least 20 years or more – and the cable system will last more than 100 years.

Info from the prototype will be used to perfect offshore wind technology for the  world market.

The project requires:

  • installing a steel monopile foundation and tower with a maximum blade tip height of 479 feet above mean sea level
  • stone riprap scour protection around the foundation base, and the installation of 15,219 linear feet of submerged power cable buried a minimum of six feet below the seabed.

The wind turbine will be installed in approximately 53 feet of water.

VMRC said the project will not impact commercial or recreational marine activities.

The agency did not receive any objections from the public.