Offshore wind project near Virginia Beach to use giant turbines with 108-meter blades

Energy

The wind farm will be located in waters off the coast of Virginia.

Sinisa Kukic | Moment | Getty Images

A vast offshore wind project planned for waters off the coast of Virginia Beach looks set to use Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s latest wind turbines, it was announced Tuesday. 

The European company said that the 2.64 gigawatt (GW) Dominion Energy Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project will utilize its SG 14-222 DD turbine.

Dominion Energy has previously described the scheme as the “largest offshore wind power project” in the United States.

Details of the turbine, which has 108-meter-long blades and a rotor diameter of 222 meters, were released last week. According to Siemens Gamesa, one turbine is able to power roughly 18,000 average European households annually, while its capacity can be boosted from 14 megawatts (MW) to 15 MW if needed.

A prototype of the turbine is set to be ready by 2021, and it’s expected to be commercially available in 2024. A 300 MW offshore wind project in Taiwan is also slated to use the SG 14-222 DD. 

The agreement between Siemens Gamesa and Dominion Energy is subject to a number of conditions, such as governmental permitting, a final investment decision from the U.S. firm, and other necessary approvals.

If all goes to plan the turbine installations are slated to be completed by 2026, although the total number that will be used is still to be determined. The commercial project builds on a 12 MW pilot scheme which will make use of two turbines from Siemens Gamesa and is set to come online later this year.

The U.S. offshore wind sector is still in the early stages of its development and has some way to go before it catches up with other parts of the world.

The country’s first offshore facility, the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, only commenced commercial operations in 2016. While no other offshore wind farms in the U.S. have come online since then, a number of large-scale schemes are now in the works.

European countries, by contrast, installed just over 3.6 GW of offshore wind capacity last year, according to industry body WindEurope, with overall offshore capacity for European nations now more than 22 GW.

The renewable energy sector has, like many others, been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with the International Energy Agency saying that renewable installations are set to fall this year.

In the field of wind energy, Siemens Gamesa has itself stated that Covid-19 had a “direct negative impact” of 56 million euros ($61.56 million) on its profitability between January and March.

Nevertheless, the industry has not ground to a complete halt. Deals continue to be made and projects continue to progress.

Tuesday also saw SSE Renewables announce that it had come to a voluntary agreement with landowners in Scotland on the development of an underground cable route for a major offshore wind farm.

Set to be located 27 kilometers off the coast of Angus, the Seagreen offshore wind farm will have a capacity of more than 1 GW. The underground cabling will link up with a substation in Tealing.

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