On Tuesday 23 March, RenewableUK’s Ports & Vessels 2021 webinar series continues with a session dedicated to “Virginia Beach: The US Offshore Wind Opportunity”. Speakers from leading organisations involved with projects at Virginia Beach will be sharing valuable insights for us to learn from, including representatives from Dominion Energy, Seajacks, The Port of Virginia and the City of Virginia Beach.
We spoke to Taylor Adams, one of the Deputy City Managers at the City of Virginia Beach, about the progress of offshore wind in the City and the importance of growth in this sector for the region.
"I am primarily tasked with tourism and economic development. One of the most exciting things happening in Virginia Beach is this new industry that has made its way across the Atlantic. I refer to renewable energy, but specifically offshore wind. We are centrally located in the Mid-Atlantic and we have two large leases for offshore wind off our coast, including the Dominion Energy project. This is unique in that it is the only project in America that has a guaranteed customer//buyer, with Dominion Energy already being one of the largest utility providers in the US.
“The Governor of Virginia and Mayor of Virginia Beach have long championed the growth of renewable energy and we recently saw the General Assembly adopt the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which creates the legislative environment that allows for the development of renewable energy across the Commonwealth of Virginia, and specifically for offshore wind energy. This, especially given the politic climate in the US of late, was the first challenge that needed to be overcome.
“Relating to both projects, but particularly the Dominion Energy project, I’m proud to report the City has worked with the Dominion Energy team to successfully negotiate a route for the infrastructure that will carry power to the grid. This is a 19-mile transmission route that will safely transfer enough power for 650,000 homes. The sheer scale of this project, was one of the biggest challenges we faced collectively, so it’s amazing to have reached an agreement.
“What we are talking about here is the birth of a new industry in the US. We understand that these projects require suppliers and it would be remiss of us not to share how we tried to advance this initiative at Virginia Beach. Only this week, we are beginning the process of building new industry space in our corporate parks to accommodate suppliers and supply chain partners. We are right next to the Port of Virginia – one of the three largest ports on the East coast in the US. All of Virginia Beach is in the foreign trade zone, which offers a potentially advantageous ability to bring in raw material, assemble products and distribute. It provides another reason for people to visit and enjoy our beautiful Virginia Beach when we can all travel again.”
At what is clearly a very exciting time for Virginia Beach and those looking to get involved with the renewable energy sector, Taylor considers the driving forces at play:
“Having lived in the UK in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I personally would have said that the US was at least 15 years behind the UK regarding renewable energy at that time. I believe a lot of this was led by petrol prices and the desire for alternative energy sources. Anecdotally, I would also have said that the UK and Europe had more broadly adopted the fight against climate change than the US.
“Fast forward to today and many of the younger generations have grown up with the reality of climate change and so the demand for more sustainable energy sources is being driven by them. The need for renewable energy is no longer a side conversation in the US, it is the conversation. Examples such as electric cars have also proven that this is a commercially viable demand, enticing more organisations to get involved.”
As French poet and novelist Victor Hugo once said, “Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come”. As is evident from the massive progress being made at Virginia Beach, now really seems to be the time for renewables across the globe.
To share more details about the renewable energy projects at Virginia Beach and to discuss the exciting changes happening, Taylor’s colleague, Laura Hayes – Business Development Coordinator, City of Virginia Beach – will join the panel for RenewableUK’s Ports & Vessels 2021 webinar on Tuesday. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from our friends across the Atlantic and to join the conversation.
Hear more about our Ports & Vessels Webinar: “Virginia Beach: The US Offshore Wind Opportunity” and register here.