SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Virginia Wind Energy
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.