DONG, Dominion partner on US offshore wind project

The 12MW facility off Virginia’s coast, expected to cost around $300m, is seen as a ‘stepping stone’ towards a larger wind farm.

In a deal the companies hope will lead to larger-scale developments in the future, Virginia’s Dominion Energy and Denmark’s DONG Energy have partnered to build two 6MW offshore wind turbines.

Financial details of the agreement were not released, but Dominion expects the total project cost to be around $300 million.

The turbines will be built 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, on a 2,100-acre site leased by Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, with completion expected by the end of 2020. The firms hope to use the experience gained from the project to later build a larger offshore wind farm, with up to 2GW capacity, at a nearby 112,800-acre site leased from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

“This project will provide us vital experience in constructing an offshore wind project in the US and serve as a stepping stone to a larger commercial-scale partnership between our companies in the future,” said Samuel Leupold, DONG’s chief executive of wind power. “We see the tremendous potential in the Mid-Atlantic for emission-free, renewable wind generation.”

The plan originated with the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Assessment Project, launched in 2011 under a grant from the US Department of Energy. The DOE contributed more than $10 million but pulled the remainder of their $47 million grant because Dominion could not guarantee the project would be in service by 2020.

The turbines would mark the second offshore wind project in the US, after the country's first offshore wind farm went online off the coast of Rhode Island in December.

“While we have faced many technological challenges and even more doubters as we advanced this project, we have been steadfast in our commitment to our customers and the communities we serve,” said Dominion chief executive Thomas Farrell II. “Virginia is now positioned to be a leader in developing more renewable energy.”