Vir­gini­ans should har­ness the mas­sive en­ergy source found just off­shore: wind.

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - BY KATHARINE KOLLINS

Vir­gini­ans are sit­ting on a mas­sive eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity — they just may need a lit­tle help get­ting to it. In April, the Lawrence Berke­ley Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory, an En­ergy De­part­ment science lab as­so­ci­ated with 13 No­bel prizes, pub­lished a re­port try­ing to quan­tify the value off­shore wind would have pro­vided to the East Coast from 2007 to 2016 had it been built. The study, “Es­ti­mat­ing the Value of Off­shore Wind Along the United States’ East­ern Coast,” com­bines the value of en­ergy gen­er­ated, ca­pac­ity value and re­new­able-en­ergy cer­tifi­cates to cal­cu­late the “mar­ket value” of off­shore wind on many points along the East Coast.

The con­clu­sion: Vir­ginia off­shore wind of­fers some of the high­est value of any­where along the East Coast.

Vir­ginia is al­ready mov­ing to­ward off­shore wind. Do­min­ion En­ergy, which is a paying mem­ber of the South­east­ern Wind Coali­tion, has been work­ing on a small demon­stra­tion project that will pro­vide valu­able in­sights into over­com­ing the unique chal­lenges of build­ing off­shore wind farms. Last year, Do­min­ion an­nounced a strate­gic part­ner­ship with Orsted En­ergy, which has built 25 per­cent of the world’s in­stalled off­shore wind. This part­ner­ship may lead to a sec­ond phase, which would gen­er­ate enough clean elec­tric­ity to power thou­sands of homes and busi­nesses. Orsted’s ex­pe­ri­ence and Do­min­ion’s in­cre­men­tal ap­proach should min­i­mize the risks in bring­ing off­shore wind to Vir­ginia.

We’re con­tin­u­ing to see strong off­shore wind progress in Eu­rope, and those ben­e­fits will soon flow to our shores. For ex­am­ple, Orsted’s ground­break­ing Hornsea Project Two in the North Sea off the coast of York­shire, Eng­land, re­cently won a bid with one of the low­est off­shore wind prices seen to date. This break­through marks a con­tin­u­ing trend of fall­ing prices for off­shore wind projects in Eu­rope. While the United States is be­hind Eu­rope’s off­shore wind mar­ket, as projects come on­line, we can ex­pect a sim­i­lar, if not more rapid, drop in price.

Vir­gini­ans should be ex­cited about this price drop be­cause of the re­lo­ca­tion of an off­shore wind sup­ply chain. With an in­crease in de­mand as more projects are pro­posed, com­pa­nies will be­gin sit­u­at­ing mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar fa­cil­i­ties in the United States to be closer to the de­mand, elim­i­nat­ing the need to ship com­po­nents from Eu­rope. That will de­crease the cost of the projects and cre­ate thou­sands of U.S. jobs.

As Thomas Brostrom, Orsted North Amer­ica’s pres­i­dent, re­cently pointed out, Vir­ginia’s ports, work­force and busi­ness cli­mate make the com­mon­wealth an at­trac­tive op­tion as the South­east’s off­shore wind man­u­fac­tur­ing hub. Vir­ginia would be well suited to host sev­eral of these man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Even more in­ter­est­ingly, Lawrence Berke­ley Na­tional Lab’s anal­y­sis of the mar­ket value of off­shore wind doesn’t in­clude any eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fits off­shore wind may bring with it, such as new man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties. This means the value for Vir­ginia is likely much higher when you con­sider the po­ten­tial for new jobs, ship­build­ing and com­merce.

Mas­sive eco­nomic ben­e­fits from off­shore wind won’t be here to­mor­row, but the work to bring the in­dus­try to Vir­ginia starts to­day. We have al­ready seen pos­i­tive progress from the Gen­eral Assem­bly this ses­sion with the Grid Trans­for­ma­tion and Se­cu­rity Act of 2018, which de­clared 5,000 megawatts of wind and so­lar are in the pub­lic in­ter­est. Vir­ginia needs to con­tinue this mo­men­tum by get­ting steel in the wa­ter and show­ing the in­dus­try a se­ri­ous com­mit­ment to growth.

A mas­sive eco­nomic re­source sits off Vir­ginia’s shores. To ben­e­fit to­mor­row, Vir­ginia needs to act to­day.

The writer is pres­i­dent of the South­east­ern Wind Coali­tion, a non­profit work­ing to ad­vance the wind in­dus­try.

MICHAEL DWYER/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wind tur­bines off the coast of Rhode Island.

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