Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has announced an agreement for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy to establish what will be the first offshore wind turbine blade facility in the United States. According to Siemens Gamesa, this is also the first commitment by a global offshore wind turbine manufacturer in a US-based supply chain.
The USD 200 million blade factory will be developed at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal in Portsmouth upon execution of a firm order for the 2.6 GW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial (CVOW-C) project with Dominion Energy, Siemens Gamesa said.
The company entered a land lease agreement with the Virginia Port Authority, supported by Virginia state incentives for site improvements. Once operational, the facility is intended to immediately support deliveries to the CVOW-C project.
Covering more than 80 acres (32 hectares), the plant would perform finishing of Siemens Gamesa Offshore IntegralBlade with approximately 260 jobs expected to be created once fully operational. The company also plans to create around 50 service jobs to provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services for the CVOW-C offshore wind farm.
Dominion Energy selected Siemens Gamesa’s 15 MW wind turbines for its 2.6 GW offshore wind farm in the first half of 2020, when the turbine maker revealed it was working with local stakeholders to investigate a potential blade manufacturing facility for these turbines on the East Coast.
The announcement on Siemens Gamesa’s plan for the blade facility comes two months after the project developer Dominion Energy signed an agreement with the Port of Virginia to lease 72 acres (29 hectares) of the deep-water Portsmouth Marine Terminal as a staging and pre-assembly site for the foundations and turbines which will be installed at the CVOW-C offshore wind farm site.
The agreement with the port came shortly after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the start of an environmental review for the 2.6 GW offshore wind project.
Dominion Energy submitted the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the large scale wind farm, located in federal waters some 27 miles (43.5 kilometres) offshore Virginia, in December 2020.
In the COP, the developer proposes the construction and operation of up to 205 turbines that could add up to up to 3,000 MW of capacity.
If approved, the CVOW-C project, which already has its 12 MW pilot predecessor up and running off Virginia, is planned to enter construction in 2024 and to become operational in 2026.
According to Dominion Energy, the capacity added by the offshore wind farm would help Virginia reach its legislated goal of securing 5.2 GW of offshore energy by 2034, set out in the Virginia Clean Economy Act, signed by Governor Northam last year.
The law sets a target for Dominion Energy to construct or purchase at least 5,200 megawatts of energy through offshore wind by 2034 and to achieve 100 per cent carbon-free energy production by 2045.