The Interior Department on Tuesday approved a plan to install up to 176 giant wind turbines off the coast of Virginia, clearing the way for what would be the nation’s largest offshore wind farm yet.
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, to be built by Dominion Energy, is the fifth commercial-scale offshore wind project approved by the Biden administration. If completed, the 2.6-gigawatt wind farm would produce enough electricity to power more than 900,000 homes, without creating any of the carbon dioxide emissions that are heating the planet.
The project is expected to provide about 900 jobs each year during the construction phase and support an estimated 1,100 annual jobs once it begins operating. “More progress and economic opportunity are on the horizon as we put to use every tool available to bring offshore wind benefits to American workers and communities nationwide,” said Ali Zaidi, the White House national climate adviser.
The decision comes at a perilous time for the offshore wind industry. To fight climate change, the Biden administration wants to install 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the United States by 2030. But that plan has run into serious trouble lately, as developers have struggled with soaring costs, rising interest rates, supply chain delays and bursts of local opposition.
While dozens of offshore wind farms are being planned along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, not all of those projects are guaranteed to be built. In Massachusetts, the company behind the Commonwealth Wind project terminated its contracts with state utilities this year, citing unexpected inflation, and said it plans to rebid at higher prices. In New York, the developers of four proposed offshore wind farms recently asked the state for more money before moving forward. New York rejected that request and it’s unclear if the projects will move ahead.
Analysts at BloombergNEF now expect that just 16.4 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity will be completed by 2030, roughly half the Biden administration’s goal. [Continue reading…]